Public Lecture: Amy Williams, PhD Student

Guest Speaker: Amy Williams, PhD Student, Nottingham Trent University, UK, will present a lecture on “The representation of the Kindertransports in British Museum Exhibitions”.

The British narrative of the Kindertransports focuses on rescue, humanitarian efforts, and survival, but this narrative marginalises problematic factors such as the difficulties Kindertransportees had adapting to a new way life and establishing a new identity. This in turn has led some historians to suggest that Britain has a tendency only to discuss the positives of this rescue operation.

However, there are some museum exhibitions that have challenged the national British narrative of the Kindertransports. In doing so they have addressed some of the more negative aspects of this story such as the trauma that the Kinder experienced. On the other hand, other museums have decided to adhere the more traditional narrative.

How do these different representations of the Kindertransports in various museum exhibitions around Britain affect our understanding of the event? How do the museums cater to their audiences? For example, how are the Kindertransports presented to children compared to adults? Are there any themes that are considered too upsetting to discuss with children? If we reflect upon the journeys around the exhibitions, are there any interactive displays, artefacts, or panels to read and how do these journeys affect our understanding of this historical event?

This paper will explore all of these questions. It will also make some initial comparisons between museum representations of the Kindertransports in Britain and those in Australia and New Zealand.

Amy Williams is in the second year of her PhD at Nottingham Trent University. Her research focus is on memories of the Kindertransports in national and international perspectives. Her Masters dissertation was The fictionalisation of the Kindertransports: A Conventional or Unconventional Narrative? Amy has recently been on a placement at Beth Shalom (The National Holocaust Centre) in Nottinghamshire, and assisted with two exhibitions: Rethinking and Re-evaluating the Narratives of the Kindertransports through Identity, Artefacts, and Testimony, and Legacies of the Holocaust. She has been awarded scholarships for her postgraduate studies, including Midlands3Cities/Arts and Humanities Research Council funding for her PhD.