Holocaust survivor to present lecture

A Dutch film-maker who was deported to a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust is to visit the University of Wolverhampton to present an annual lecture.

Frank Diamand

Frank Diamand

Frank Diamand was arrested when he was four and sent to the transit camp Westerbork in the Netherlands in 1943, narrowly avoiding being sent to Auschwitz.

He was then deported to Bergen-Belsen in Germany before being taken with his family in 1945 on a train towards Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.

Mr Diamand, who now lives in Amsterdam, will talk about his experiences at the University’s Annual Holocaust Memorial Day lecture on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 5pm.

The talk will take place in room MC001 at the Wolverhampton City Campus and will be attended by an invited audience of school pupils, guests and University staff and students.

Lynn Leighton-Johnstone, Associate Dean of the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Frank Diamand to Wolverhampton to present our annual Holocaust lecture. Each year, our guests provide thought provoking and often harrowing accounts of the Holocaust which serve as an important reminder that we should never forget the lessons of history.”

The lecture will be preceded by a showing of Mr Diamand’s documentary, When Memory Comes, at 3.30pm. The film focuses on Jewish historian Saul Friedländer and his life-long quest to describe the extermination of the European Jews without losing a primary feeling of disbelief.

The lecture is part of a week of events organised by the University to mark worldwide Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place each year on January 27.

Tickets are allocated on a first come, first served basis. To book a ticket or for full details of the University’s programme of events visit: www.wlv.ac.uk/holocaust

About Frank Diamand

Frank Diamand’s father at 27 was a judge in Berlin in 1933, but a year later he was a refugee in the Netherlands. His mother was from a Dutch Jewish family, who had lived in Holland for centuries, and her father was to become president of the Jewish Council which delayed the family’s deportation and saved them from Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Mr Diamand, now aged 73, explains: “We were arrested in September 1943, stayed in Westerbork for a year and then were deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with the last train that went East. In that last year of the war conditions in Bergen-Belsen got worse and worse. As Germany was losing the war prisoners from other camps were moved there and the camp got very overcrowded. Diseases were epidemic and people died like flies.

“In the beginning of April 1945 the Nazis sent three trains each with some 2000 ‘exchange Jews’  from Bergen-Belsen in the direction of Theresiënstadt. As the fronts were coming nearer from both sides, those trains stood still more often than that they were moving.

“My family and I were in one of them. One of the trains reached Theresienstadt, another was liberated by the Russians at Tröbitz. Our train was liberated by the Americans on April 13, near the village of Farsleben in the middle of Germany. Both of my parents survived.”

Frank Diamand went on to study Mathematics and Law at Amsterdam University. He worked as a law court journalist before completing a course in television. He then worked for 18 years as director/producer for VARA-television in the Netherlands, ending as Commissioning Editor on the investigative documentary series No Stone Unturned.

Although many of his films had dealt with oppression and resistance in present times, Frank Diamand had never made a film about World War II or the persecution of the Jews. When in 2007 Saul Friedländer’s book Nazi-Germany and the Jews was published in a Dutch translation and Friedländer gave a lecture at Amsterdam University, Diamand, who had interviewed him 41 years before for a Dutch weekly, decided to make a film.

When Memory Comes, a film about Saul Friedländer  took five years to produce and will be screened at the University of Wolverhampton on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 3.30pm.