Echo Eternal is a commemorative arts, media and civic engagement project delivered in schools for children of all ages, inspired by the testimony of British survivors of the Holocaust. The testimony was captured by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation – UKHMF.
The project is underpinned by CORE Education Trust’s commitment to bring together diverse communities in a collaborative context, in this case with a common focus of Holocaust memorial and genocide awareness. This focus is supported by the creation of collaborative civic alliances between schools with different social and cultural characteristics.
The Echo Eternal pilot commenced in Birmingham on Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 and is currently a live project across a network of 18 schools – six CORE Education schools and 12 Partner schools in the West Midlands. The project will expand to other regions of the country from 2020/2021.
Schools work with an artist in residence to use the testimony of a survivor to explore themes of the Holocaust and its impact on individuals. Each school is provided with a testimony from one of the 112 survivor interviews captured by Natasha Kaplinsky for UKHMF in 2015. This testimony becomes the inspiration for the school’s response through an artistic expression, which is conceived and delivered by the pupils. This 'echo' of the testimony pays tribute to the survivor and is shared with the school community.
Every January, participating schools come together to collectively showcase their film echoes and to exhibit artwork inspired by their survivor testimony as part of the Echo.
Each of the Echo Eternal participating schools benefits from a series of training events led by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education. Each school is further supported by CORE Education Trust to develop counter prejudice narratives in response to survivor testimony and to develop pupils’ critical thinking.
The project’s educational focus complements the learning objectives of UKHMF:
- Knowledge of the historical facts
- Appreciation of roles and responsibilities
- Applying the lessons of the Holocaust to subsequent genocides
- Recognising the humanity of the victims
- Promoting tolerance and respect
Each school is encouraged to consider applying to become a UCL Beacon School and to secure accreditation as a Refugee Welcome School from the NASUWT.
Each participating school works with a film maker to produce a permanent record of their artistic responses and to capture their civic pledges. This involves making a three minute film beginning and ending with the words of the survivor. The schools use social media to share their project experiences with other participating schools and stakeholders.
During their artistic residency, each school contemplates a range of civic pledges, with the goal of impacting positive societal change. These pledges are inspired by the testimony from the survivors. Each school forms a civic alliance with one of the other Echo Eternal schools, inspired by the Great Get Together event in memory of Jo Cox. This element of the project focuses more on countering prejudice and hate crime.