23 January 2018

Susanne Pearson, who escaped from war-torn Prague aged 11, will mark this year’s World Holocaust Memorial Day by appearing in a short film, screened as part of the city’s commemorations on Thursday 25 January.

A candlelit vigil will be held in the Winter Garden from 5:30-7pm, preceded by a series of short films from 12-4:30pm. Other speakers include the Lord Mayor, Rabbi Golomb, Sheffield Jewish Orthodox community, members of the Roma Network and Disability Sheffield. Activities will reflect this year’s theme, ‘the power of words’.

In ‘My Escape from the Holocaust’, Susanne tells her story. She arrived in Sheffield as a child but was never to see her parents again, beginning a new life that would lead to becoming a school teacher and great-grandmother.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1928, Susanne lived with her parents in Prague and was then among the 10,000 predominantly Jewish children offered an escape route out of mainland Europe by Britain in the nine months leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, through the Kindertransport (German for ‘Children’s Transport’) scheme.

Short clip of Susanne’s film

Susanne said: “This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme is very meaningful for me because I and others like me have been using the power of words to tell our stories. It’s important that we continue to share our stories to help children around the world today, who need acceptance, and their differences celebrated and enjoyed for the diversity they bring.

“I’m grateful and proud to have the opportunity to participate in Sheffield’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Sheffield has been very kind to me.

“It’s a little way of paying back and bringing, through ‘The Power of Words’, the thinking behind why we still have to remember those dreadful times, and how hopefully in remembrance we learn to be more tolerant.”

Councillor Olivia Blake, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “As Sheffield marks World Holocaust Memorial Day, it’s important we hear Susanne’s story. Susanne is one of our city’s finest, and makes sure that the things she experienced, and the sanctuary she found in Sheffield, are never forgotten.

“These films and the vigil that follows are a fitting reminder of why we must remember, and tell these stories.”

Rabbi Golomb added: “The power of words is what makes us uniquely human – when used wrongly they can destroy, when used correctly they can be creative and a huge force for good.”