Survival, Memory and Testimony

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Survival, Memory and Testimony – Personal Perspectives on the Holocaust

  • Tue 1 Feb 2011
  • 6:00PM

Dialogue between Freddie Knoller, survivor of Auschwitz, and Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Holocaust Historian, University of Manchester

‘I realised that there were two choices [in Auschwitz]: You can either give up and within 2 or 3 days you are dead, or you fight to live and adjust yourself to the situation “by hook or by crook”. I chose the latter’. - Freddie Knoller

Holocaust history is heavily indebted to oral and written testimonies. However, the opportunity to hear the
witness testimonies of Holocaust survivors is becoming rarer. The Institute of Historical Research and The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism have organised this event not only to allow academics and non-academics alike to meet and listen to the story of Freddie Knoller, but also to offer an animated and controversial discussion between historians, historical witnesses and the public.

Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Holocaust historian from the University of Manchester, will act as chair (Ami si tu tombes. Les déportés résistants, des camps au souvenir, 1945-2005 (Paris, Perrin, 2005) ; Il m’appelait « Pikolo ». Un compagnon de Primo Levi raconte. (Paris, Robert Laffont, 2007)). Dr Dreyfus will open the event by giving a short presentation on ‘The knowledge of Auschwitz: history, remembrance and survivors’ testimonies’.

Freddie Knoller, born in Vienna in 1921, will then be given the opportunity to share his experiences of persecution, internment and survival. After fleeing to France, Freddie was put in an internment camp for enemy aliens, from which he escaped shortly after. Freddie then went on to spend two years in Occupied Paris, where he acted as a guide to German soldiers visiting the ‘Red Light District’, and ultimately joined a resistance cell. In May 1943, Freddie was caught by the Vichy Police and deported to Auschwitz in October. Freddie’s recently published memoirs, Desperate Journey: Vienna-Paris-Auschwitz (2002), will be available for purchase at this event.

For additional information please contact: Ludivine Broch (Birkbeck College)
or Daniel Lee (St Hugh’s College, Oxford/IHR)

Freddy Knoller. Photographer: Step Haiselden from Chronological

Institute of Historical Research

Wolfson-Pollard Room
Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU