The Institute for the History of the German Jews in Hamburg, the Wiener Holocaust Library London and the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Leicester co-hosted a virtual lecture for Holocaust Memorial Day 2024. The event is organised in response to the 2024 HMD theme “The Fragility of Freedom” which invites us to consider the erosion of freedom by perpetrator regimes, including key rights such as freedom of expression, of religion and of movement.
This event engages with the misconception that liberation means the end of suffering and the start of a free life. Whilst allied liberators freed Holocaust survivors from the physical imprisonment of concentration camps, the prisoners then found themselves alone, often unable to return home, and having to move to a new country, learn a new language and rebuild their lives from scratch. They had to rebuild new lives with the painful absence of family members and friends. Such was the experience of Emmie Arbel, who was 5 when the Nazis had deported her and her family from their home in the Netherlands. Liberated at the age of seven-and-a-half, her start into a new life as an orphan confronted her with new painful experiences. Artist Barbara Yelin finds sensitive and powerful ways to tell Emmie’s story of the fragility of freedom as a moving graphic novel.
Speaker: Barbara Yelin studied illustration at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. She is the author of numerous research-based, historical and biographical Graphic Novels about women. In 2014, she published the award-winning book Irmina, the story of a German woman who chose to connive with the Nazi regime. Supported by the Goethe Insitute Israel, Yelin memorialised the life of Israeli actress Channa Maron, published in 2016 as Vor allem eins: Dir selbst sei treu. Her illustration of Emmie Arbel’s life is the result of an intimate co-creation of the graphic novelist and the Holocaust survivor that first appeared in the anthology But I Live: Three Stories of Child Survivors of the Holocaust published by University of Toronto Press in 2021. It has since developed into a comprehensive account of Emmie Arbel’s experiences during and after the Holocaust published as Emmie Arbel: Die Farbe der Erinnerung.