Holocaust Memorial Day

On Holocaust Memorial Day, our blog post is written by Dan Lewis, Information Assistant at Bill Bryson Library, where she shares her thoughts and reflections on the holocaust and what she found when looking through our collections at Bill Bryson Library.

Further information about Holocaust Memorial Day, as well as university, local, and national events, can be found on the Durham University website – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion : Holocaust Memorial Day – Durham University.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, when people remember the lives of the millions of people murdered during the holocaust in World War II as well as further genocides since that time. It is important to learn about this dark time in the past so we remember to prevent such atrocities happening again, and we all have a responsibility for this.

A small sample of what you can find at shelf-mark 940.5318

I took a wander down to shelf-mark 940.5318 the Dewey decimal number for the history of the holocaust to see what I could learn. I’m not sure what I was expecting, given that I knew how significant a period this was in history, but I must admit I was surprised about the number of shelves taken up by this one shelf-mark (and of course there will be further references to the holocaust in various other subject sections all over the library). I realised there was such a huge amount of information because it was a process in history that broke such a huge number of lives. We know that around 6 million Jewish people were killed and around 11 million people from other oppressed groups. We don’t have 17 million holocaust books (or 17 million journal articles, online resources, e-theses etc.) though each one of those people had a unique story. For me, the enormous number of books represented the enormous number of people, and the enormous impact that the holocaust had on the continuing history of the world.

(Ed. – for current access to the Bill Bryson Library and its collections, see our guide here)

A small sample of what you can find at shelf-mark 940.5318

It can be incredibly daunting to be faced with the task of preventing future genocides and persecution of all kinds. As I learned, there is so much information, even just in our collection here at the Bill Bryson. But we don’t have to take the whole weight of the world on our shoulders individually. Preventing and halting future persecution of Jewish people, and future genocides in general has to be a collective effort. And we must all do our bit by educating ourselves. I have picked out the book ‘Why Germany? National Socialist Anti-Semitism and the European Context’ edited by John Milfull, as I’m interested to learn what specific circumstances led to antisemitism coming to a head in that specific country, rather than any other of the other European countries where antisemitism was also rife. I’m hoping this will be one small step towards me being able to help prevent such atrocities happening again.

A small sample of what you can find at shelf-mark 940.5318

We also have a plethora of resources on the topic that are available online. Just as a starting point, this is a link to a search of ‘holocaust’ on Discover, with the ‘Available online’ filter on. Primo by Ex Libris – holocaust (durham.ac.uk). At a time when we are all working incredibly hard to prevent deaths caused by a virus, preventing deaths caused by other humans might not be at the forefront of our minds. But please if you have the capacity, take a look at one or two of these online resources available with your Durham University login. There’s so much more to learn.

Further Durham resources:

Resilience or reticence? Holocaust memory in the United Kingdom – Daniel Adamson (podbean.com)

  • A podcast by Daniel Adamson, a PhD student at Durham, about contemporary British memories of the holocaust.

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