Holocaust survivor to share experiences

Ruth Barnett will present the annual Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture at the University’s City Campus on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 at 5pm.

The University hosts a lecture each year to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. This year’s lecture is titled From the Kindertransport to person of No Nationality: Ruth Barnett tells her story.

Dieter Steinert, Professor of Modern European History and Migration Studies at the University, organises the free lecture each year.

He said: "We are looking forward to welcoming Ruth Barnett to present this year's Holocaust Memorial Day lecture at the University. Ruth's story highlights the struggle with identity that many Holocaust survivors experienced and offers a different perspective on this period of history."

Ruth Barnett, nee Michaelis, was born in Berlin in 1935. She escaped the Nazi regime at the age of four with her seven-year-old brother Martin on the Kindertransport, a rescue mission that evacuated refugee children out of Germany.

Ruth and her brother lived with three foster families and in a hostel in England for the next 10 years, during which time they did not see their parents. Her father, who was Jewish, escaped to Shanghai and her mother, who was not Jewish, remained in Germany in hiding until 1945.

Ruth’s mother had to go into hiding in 1943 because she had taken part in the Rosenstrasse protest in Central Berlin. About 6,000 non-Jewish women who were married to Jewish men took part in this protest.

In 1949, Ruth’s mother came to England to take her back to Germany but had to return to Germany without Ruth who did not want to leave her foster-family. Ruth was subsequently repatriated to Germany on a court order served by her father. Ruth found this very traumatic, as she had once again lost the security of the home and country she was used to. Her parents allowed her to return to England and visit them in Germany during the school holidays.

In her autobiography, Person of No Nationality, she describes the feelings of failure and worthlessness and her experiences of having to travel with a document with the words ‘Person of No Nationality’ across the top.

After leaving University, Ruth married her Jewish boyfriend and converted to Judaism. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2008 and have three children and two grandchildren. Ruth was a secondary school teacher for 19 years and a psychotherapist for 30 years. She regularly shares her testimony in schools and colleges.

The lecture in MC001 is free by pre-booked ticket only. To book a ticket, contact Jacqueline Jones or Elaine Wilkes on 01902 322145 or email the ticketline - holocaust-lecture2011@wlv.ac.uk

Pupils from local schools and members of the public will be attending the event.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture is supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications and the Centre for Historical Research.

ENDS

For media inquiries, please contact Vickie Warren in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736 or email v.warren@wlv.ac.uk

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