Holocaust Centre North

The Archives Revealed grant has enabled Holocaust Centre North (HCN) to begin cataloguing the records and materials from their parent organisation, The Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA). So far, they have catalogued around 30 collections of personal papers of Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees who rebuilt their lives in the North of England. The funding has been essential to helping HCN understand the breadth and significance of the material in their collections.

Already we can see that the Archives Revealed grant’s aims of increasing the visibility of and access to our collections are being met and, as the cataloguing progresses, we will see more opportunities to unlock the archive’s rich potential for use. Our archive sits at the heart of Holocaust Centre North’s work, providing the ground on which our Learning Programme and artist residencies can take place. Cataloguing has allowed us to enhance our schools’ and adult education with new stories and material, particularly in relation to the Kindertransport scheme and refugees who were interned on the Isle of Man.

Large-scale artworks, based on documents such as telegrams, hanging in an exhibition.

Artworks inspired by the collections of Michelle Green, Rachel Mendel, and the Kubie family. Created by Laura Fisher, one of the 2022-2023 Memorial Gestures artists in residence. Courtesy of Holocaust Centre North.

Earlier this year, three artists engaged with archival materials to create new work (pictured); this was facilitated by HCN’s better understanding of the collections, thanks to the ongoing cataloguing work.

Archives Revealed also bolstered HCN’s wider ambitions to implement Homeward Bound, a three-year project to catalogue, digitise and grow collections by 50%, by 2025. Support through Archives Revealed has helped HCN to secure over £200,000 of further funding from a range of trusts and foundations, including the Pears Foundation, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and The Claims Conference. The establishment of the archive has been invaluable for developing other projects, and has in turn made HCN’s work more attractive to other funders. Further development will be supported by a part-time Archive Assistant from September 2023; a role which HCN have been able to fundraise for thanks to the success of the cataloguing project so far.

“It is thanks to the development of the catalogue, enabled by Archives Revealed, that we were able to develop this connection — the kind of connection which is the bedrock of Holocaust Centre North’s work.”


Hari Jonkers, Archivist

Our increased knowledge about the research strengths of and gaps within the collection has allowed us to plan future collections development more strategically. For instance, we were unaware of just how many Jewish refugees were assisted by Quakers (including Elisabeth Bernheim, pictured) and we are now seeking to make connections with this community.

An open passport, with a photo of the passport holder on the left page and personal details on the right page.

Elisabeth Bernheim’s German passport (1939). Holocaust Centre North Archive, courtesy of the Bernheim family.

On a personal level, it has been thoroughly enjoyable getting to know the archive better and, as a result, becoming better able to support Holocaust Centre North’s team and external users to share in the richness of these extraordinarily compelling collections. Being able to share ‘new discoveries’ with colleagues is incredibly rewarding and has increased staff awareness of the work that archivists do, which can often be hidden. The increased knowledge of our archive, combined with developing new finding aids, has made my role more efficient because it is easier and quicker to find relevant collections to meet users’ needs.

Cataloguing has already enabled HCN to strengthen their existing relationships within the Northern community of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and to seek out and develop new relationships. Recently, whilst cataloguing the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, the name David Berglas was noticed – a ‘famous magician’ whose family showed kindness to the interviewee’s husband as a newly arrived refugee. HCN have now interviewed David Berglas, a sprightly 97-year-old, and are working with him to digitise some of his extensive collection of photographs.

“It is thanks to the development of the catalogue, enabled by Archives Revealed, that we were able to develop this connection — the kind of connection which is the bedrock of Holocaust Centre North’s work.”