Holocaust Memorial Day: Telling the stories of the survivors

Durham University physics lecturer Dr Marek Szablewski.
Durham University physics lecturer Dr Marek Szablewski.
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The horrors of the past came to life when the son of a resistance fighter marked Holocaust Memorial Day at Durham Cathedral.

Durham University physics lecturer Dr Marek Szablewski spoke to schoolchildren about his Polish father, whose Jewish stepmother and half sister were hidden from the Nazis in occupied Poland during the Second World War.

Since being awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2011, Dr Szablewski has been researching his hidden Polish family history and the journey that brought his parents to Yorkshire after the war.

As part of his research, he travelled to Warsaw to work on his project “Surviving Warsaw 1939-1945: Untold stories of Occupation and the Ghetto”, talking to relatives, searching archives and museums, and visiting sites of special interest, to fill the gaps in his late father’s stories and documents. “Conveying my family’s story to school children from across County Durham is an incredibly rewarding opportunity.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed leading workshops at Durham Cathedral over the last three years.

“My aim is to disseminate the stories, for young people to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazi oppression.

“Once the witnesses have gone, who will tell their stories?”

Marek will shared his family’s story with invited school pupils and their teachers, as the culmination of a day of workshops and activities organized by Durham Cathedral, Durham County Council and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.