RTE 1 TV January 12, 2022
An exhibition telling the story of one Jewish family before, during and after World War II is being launched at Dublin Castle this evening.
'The Objects of Love' is a curated collection of precious family objects, photographs and documents belonging to the founder of Holocaust Awareness Ireland, Oliver Sears.
Mr Sears, who grew up in London, owns an art gallery in Dublin.
His family came from the Polish city of Lodz, which had a population of 200,000 Jews before the war.
He has painstakingly chronicled how their lives were torn apart following the Nazi invasion in 1939.
He said: "They were ordinary people. It's just that fate intervened and ensured that they had extraordinary lives. This is my family story, told through my eyes, the only way I know how, using fragments of memory I have recorded, together with the collection of objects and documents, the emotional debris of dislocation and disaster."
Among the items in the exhibition are forged identity papers belonging to his grandmother.
"They show a passport sized photograph of my grandmother with freshly dyed blonde hair staring straight ahead. A new and necessary look to heighten her Aryan credentials, along with her acquired, nondescript Polish name and unlikely declared profession of 'typist'.
"When I think about the Holocaust and what happened to my family, strangely I don't feel anger. It's humiliation. What could be more humiliating than having to pretend that you are something you are not, because your life depends on it."
Speaking ahead of the exhibition’s launch this evening, Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan said: "The Holocaust represents an event at the limits, a core event in which a shared European memory is rooted that we in Ireland are part of. But it is only through our own personal engagement with the past that we can understand its legacy and continued relevance to our present and future.
"This exhibition particularises the experience of one family and offers us a unique opportunity to both relate to and bear witness to the fate of those persecuted by the Nazis."
The exhibition is accompanied by an audio narration and an illustrated booklet.
Mr Sears said he hoped it raised awareness and understanding of a subject that "is still not widely known in Ireland".
He also explained how he felt he was honouring his family by bringing their story to Dublin Castle.
"I think the fact that we were invited by the OPW to produce this exhibition at Dublin Castle gives us, in a nutshell, the imprimatur of the State.
"I do have a very keen sense of needing to honour my family. At an almost biblical level, they were humiliated.
"Not only were they murdered, every trace that they ever existed was wiped out. So, there is a sense of triumph that I, somehow, at State-level can give them a voice, bring them back to life briefly, and give them a value that was stripped from them."