Today, 27th January, is Holocaust Memorial Day. First marked in the UK in 2001, Holocaust Memorial Day allows people to remember the millions murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
The Lisburn area, like many other areas of Northern Ireland, has strong connections to the Jewish diaspora who fled Nazi Germany. Otto Karl Herrmann, who was born in Germany in 1900 fled his homeland in 1939 before coming to the UK. First settling in London, Otto and his wife, Gertrude went on to establish a small factory, Ulster Pearls Ltd. in Dunmurry with assistance from the Northern Ireland Government. Gertrude’s cousin, Frantisek Kafka also worked in the company. Frantisek’s parents were killed in the Holocaust.
Walter Storch was born in Vienna in 1907 to Jewish parents. He was interned by the Nazis in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps in 1938, but managed to flee before the war and make his way to Ireland in 1939. Walter spent the war in the Isle of Man, but eventually settled in Lisburn and ran a chiropody practice on Bow Street. The Museum’s permanent collection holds his Nazi-stamped passport.
The museum recently acquired a Lodz Ghetto coin for its permanent collection. These coins were used as a surrogate currency by inmates of the Lodz Ghetto in Poland between 1940 and 1944.