Holocaust survivor lends memories

HISTORY: Holocaust centre director Emma King, left, survivor Heinz Skyte and Leeds lawyer Simon Jackson.
HISTORY: Holocaust centre director Emma King, left, survivor Heinz Skyte and Leeds lawyer Simon Jackson.

A holocaust survivor from Leeds has loaned his treasured family memories to a new history centre.

Heinz Skyte, 97, has lent his letters, photographs and documents from one of history’s darkest hours to the new Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre, which will open next year.

TREASURED PHOTO: Heinz Skytes parents.

TREASURED PHOTO: Heinz Skytes parents.

Mr Skyte, who narrowly escaped the atrocities of Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) and came to Leeds in 1939, said: “To the visitors this is perhaps just history, but to me it is my life. It is very important for me to share these items with the centre, as they are evidence for the events of the Holocaust.

“One of these documents is a letter from my wife’s headmaster written in 1938 when she was a young girl, banning her from the school, solely based on her Jewish faith.

“Another is a heartfelt note from my mother to her parents at the time they were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where they sadly died just two weeks later. These items don’t just teach people of what happened, but of how genocide, in all its horror, quickly become acceptable to so many.

“I just hope that the people of Yorkshire and beyond will make the visit to the new centre to understand it better. Everybody thought the Holocaust was unique, and everybody said “never again”, but it’s still happening.

“We have still got ethnic cleansing, and that’s why it’s important that British youngsters know about what happened and that by learning from it, generations to come will prevent it from ever happening again.”

The centre has received support from a host of benefactors, including more than £600,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Leeds law firm Shulmans has also supported it.

Shulmans’ Simon Jackson, a past president of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council, said: “The work for us started several years ago and continues in the lead up to the opening, something Shulmans has been happy to do pro bono.”