Women in the Holocaust: One Hungarian Woman's Story
by Agnes Grunwald Spier
Wednesday 31 January 2018, Students' Union Auditorium
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The University was delighted to welcome alumna, Honorary Graduate and author, Agnes Grunwald-Spier to deliver this public lecture. The event was timely with Holocaust Memorial Day taking place on 27 January, Agnes started the proceedings by asking the audience to join her in a minute’s silence to remember victims of the Holocaust.
Her lecture began by talking about her family’s experiences during the Holocaust. Agnes was born in Budapest in July 1944. She was a baby in the Budapest Ghetto in November 1944, until January 1945 when Agnes and her mother were liberated by the Russians. She talked about how ‘the man in charge sent back the women with children’, Agnes went on to say how this man effectively saved her life – without him she and her family would not be here today.
When Agnes was in her fifties, she realised she could talk little of the Holocaust to her three sons and subsequently decided to undertake an MA in Holocaust Studies at Sheffield University (1996-1998). Agnes said the degree ‘changed her life’ and resulted in her having three books on the Holocaust published. It was her third book ‘Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust’ that Agnes discussed in her lecture. The lecture was the first time that the book had been discussed to an audience, having only been released on 15 January 2018. The focus on women, Agnes explained was due to the fact that women had very different stories to tell from that of men. Agnes presented the audience with different case studies from the women in her book, stories that were harrowing and stories where women displayed resistance and strength.
Agnes spoke to a full and wholly engaged audience, the lecture was moving, emotive and thought-provoking. Agnes’ down to earth presence and warm demeanour made for a lecture that left the audience wanting to hear more.
Feedback from attendees
‘I thought the speaker was incredible and held the attention of the crowd perfectly.’
‘Agnes was a passionate speaker and I was completely engaged. I would love to see her speak again!’
‘An excellent event. I think we all wanted it to last longer.’