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St Mary's University College Marks Auschwitz Commemoration


Joanna Kozicka (University of Warsaw) places a candle at the memorial

Joanna Kozicka (University of Warsaw) places a candle at the memorial


On Tuesday, 27th January, the world commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, seventy years ago. The community of St Mary’s University College joined that worldwide commemoration with a special exhibition and remembrance service.

At noon, the College bell signalled a minute of silence across the university campus as lecturers, students and support staff paused to remember the more than one million people executed in that camp, and the many other millions who died during the Holocaust.

A special exhibition in the main College Hall told the story of Auschwitz and its part in the Holocaust carried out by the Nazi regime during World War II. More than one million Jews were killed, as were many thousands of Poles, Soviet POWs and Sinti and Roma (more commonly known as Gypsies). Using interpretive texts, photographs and other illustrations, participants attempted to make a connection to these individuals and their sufferings. The exhibition also explored the continuing impact of Auschwitz in our world today: both the positive responses, such as the foundation of the State of Israel and the development of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the negative reoccurrences of genocide in many parts of the world since 1945. Finally, the exhibition explored various responses by students of the College—in art and poetry—which aim to create a memorial of the Holocaust and a to serve as vigilance against further genocide.

During the afternoon, a moving ceremony of remembrance was held in the College Hall, attended by lecturers, student teachers and Liberal Arts students, as well as students from many countries who are studying at St Mary’s. Speakers read poetry in Hebrew, Polish, German and English—from a biblical psalm to a recent composition by a St Mary’ student:

Psalm 130 read in Hebrew by Fr Feidhlimidh Magennis (Dept of Religious Studies)
Night Over Birkenau by Tadeusz Borowski, read in Polish by Erasmus student Joanna Kozicka (University of Warsaw)
Todesfuge by Paul Celan, read in German by Dr Angela Vaupel (Dept of International Studies)
The Final Solution by Brian Rooney, a first-year Liberal Arts student of the College

As the gathering listened to the third movement of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, each member lit and placed a candle on the memorial as a mark of remembrance for all who died in the Holocaust and other genocides.


In the Picture - Auschwitz Commemoration