Whatever you do, remember that the theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day is 'journeys'. Journeys are about getting from one place to another. If we truly want to honour the lives of all those who suffered under the Nazi regime, it is our duty to ensure that we, as a society, take note of our starting point and make sure that we move forward to a more promising final destination.
My granddad died a year ago. We've been clearing out his papers. Like so many men of his generation (he was born in 1921), his early adult life was cut around the events of the Second World War. And, like many of his generation, his was not the first experience of war-service in the family. Amongst the papers he left, we also came across documents and letters about his own father's service in what became the First World War...
Ravens were first brought to the Tower of London in about 1883 to serve as props for tales of Gothic horror told by Beefeaters to the tourists. During World War II, people used these ravens as spotters for enemy bombs and planes, and their employment was quickly mythologized as a prophecy--that the British Empire would fall if the ravens ever left the Tower.
What do you remember being taught in your history lessons in secondary school? The Tudors, perhaps the Romans, the English Civil War and the two World Wars? For the seven years I studied history I am glad that we studied wars and monarchy but it seems a shame that I know little about the history of medicine, technology or engineering.
There's something about paper. Not the crisp-sheet-of-A4-fresh-from-the-printer kind of paper, but the slightly crumpled, much-read kind that carries precious words or a faded picture of someone no longer part of our lives, but who once meant everything. The kind of paper that dreams and memories and even history are made of.
Could it be true that humans are hard-wired to seek mind altering substances such as caffeine, tobacco, psychedelic drugs, and alcohol? Alcohol is and was the most easily available intoxicant and historically different cultures throughout the world started drinking independently with no knowledge of the others.
The reign of Richard III provides the historian with an endless minefield of possibilities. From his loyal service to the house of York, through the dramatic events of 1483, which saw the executions of his family and allies, the removal of his nephew from the throne and his own coronation, events will continue to divide those who remain fascinated by this enigma of a man.
Iby was born in Czechoslovakia, where she was excluded from school for being Jewish. She was later smuggled over the border into Hungary, where she ended up working for the Hungarian resistance in Budapest. She was eventually captured and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Iby is a remarkable lady and to have her in front of us sharing her story was truly captivating.