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The University of Southampton
History Part of Humanities

Prof. Tony Kushner to Advise UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation

Published: 13 November 2019
Holocaust Memorial Centre
UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

Tony Kushner , a Marcus Sieff Professor in the History of Jewish/non Jewish Relations, has been invited to join the recently-formed Academic Advisory Board of the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation, the national establishment for the remembrance of the Holocaust. This is a considerable honour and will give Professor Kushner an important role in shaping the displays and activities of the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, which, as Professor Kushner notes, 'will mark the largest and most prominent forms of Holocaust commemoration in Britain.'

Dedicated to the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the Memorial and Learning centre will be situated in Victoria Gardens next to Parliament and is intended to remind visitors of the necessity of constant vigilance against all forms of prejudice, whilst reaffirming the government's responsibility to combat antisemitism in all its guises. The Memorial and Learning Centre will house a thematic exhibition addressing Britain's ambiguous responses to the Holocaust and encouraging critical reflection on a complex issue. UK Holocaust Memorial co-Chair, the Rt Hon Lord Pickles, has promised that this exhibition will be 'honest and unblinking.'

Working with the other members of the Academic Advisory Board, Professor Kushner hopes to provide the project with a 'critical edge so that the range of British responses to the plight of European Jewry is represented in an open and constructive way.' In so doing, Professor Kushner will encourage a reflexive approach 'allowing consideration of and linkages between racisms of the past and present, some linked more closely to the British past such as slavery and imperialism.'

The design for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, proposed by a team led by architect Sir David Adjaye, with Ron Arad Architects as Memorial Architect, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman as Landscape Architect, has been developed over the past year in consultation with local residents, Holocaust survivors, communities of a range of faiths and backgrounds, and key experts from fields including landscape design and Holocaust education. In 2015, the government committed £50 million to the project. A further £25 million was committed in May 2019.

The final design for the Memorial and Learning Centre consists of 23 bronze fins to the southern end of the Victoria Gardens. Visitors will walk through an entrance pavilion, then across a courtyard where they will be met with views of Parliament's Victoria Tower. The Learning Centre, accessed by pathways set between the fins, is an integral part of the Memorial. Reflecting on the project, UK Holocaust Memorial co-Chair, the Rt Hon Ed Balls, writes: 'There is no better place than Victoria Tower Gardens, just metres from our own Parliament, to remind ourselves of the value of democracy and the need to keep the lessons of history at the heart of our institutions and the decisions our elected politicians make every day.'

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