Holocaust Centre North seeks to raise awareness of human rights, freedom and equality by exploring one of the darkest chapters in contemporary history. We are dedicated to telling a global history through local stories by collecting, preserving and displaying the documentary evidence and testimony of survivors and refugees who built new lives as members of northern communities after the Holocaust. We make their stories relevant today through our interdisciplinary and creative programming.
In 1995 a conversation in Leeds prompted what would become the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA). Against a backdrop of devastating conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda, where genocide was happening on an appalling scale, a small group of social workers met in the offices of the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. This was for a routine conversation about their weekly meetings with clients.
However, the conversation soon focused other matters and, apropos of nothing, it suddenly became apparent that a few people in the room shared something remarkable in common.
They were Holocaust survivors.
And what became even more incredible was that, after a little research, they found others in Leeds who were also survivors.
“It was a big moment,” explains Barbara Cline, who has worked for over 40-years at the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. “They had been in Britain for 50-years and had never spoken about their experiences. This burden had been bottled up for so long and it was incredibly liberating to finally talk about it with people who could relate and understand.”
The foundations for a new mutual support group were established that day and, soon after, meetings were established where survivors came to share their experiences over tea and coffee. In 1996, the HSFA was formally established, and it wasn’t long before they were venturing out into schools, and other organisations to do talks about the Holocaust.
What had started from conversations would go on to develop into a powerful, community-led educational organisation telling a global history through local stories from the North of England.
At every stage of our development, we continually return to the core values of bearing witness to the truth and showing solidarity with survivors that shone so brightly on that day in 1995.
Holocaust Centre North
The HSFA became a registered charity in 2000 and an incorporated charity in 2017. In 2018, thanks to Lilian Black, the group of survivors who founded HSFA, the University of Huddersfield, as well as several friends of the Charity, we opened our permanent exhibition and learning centre on the University of Huddersfield campus. We remain an autonomous, independent organisation whilst benefitting from our close relationship with a vibrant community of researchers and thousands of students.
Since the opening of this unique resource, we have developed a track record in delivering quality education, research, and commemoration programmes that our audiences and colleagues have defined as ‘relevant,’ ‘inclusive,’ and ‘visionary.’
Holocaust Centre North tells a global history through local stories to inspire others to value human rights, freedom and equality. Our work includes five strategic areas:
- A permanent exhibition on the University of Huddersfield campus
- A growing and living archive of documentary evidence of the Holocaust
- A programme of education and public learning activities, including archive residencies for contemporary artists
- Research in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and the broader academic community
- Community support and friendship
Our current funders include the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Pears Foundation, the Association of Jewish Refugees, Rothschild Hanadiv Europe, the Toni Schiff Memorial, the Wolfson Family Trust, the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation, the Department for Levelling Up, Foyle, The National Archives, the Claims Conference, and many individual donors and family trusts. We are grateful to all our funders and supporters for making Holocaust Centre North a reality.
In 2023, Holocaust Centre North was awarded the first King’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of the involvement of survivors, members of the second and third generation as well as friends and allies in various aspects of our work.