December 1970 – when German Chancellor Willy Brandt visits the memorial to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 he falls to his knees in a spontaneous act of humility. When asked to explain his Kniefall, Brandt would later say: “Under the weight of recent history, I did what people do when words fail them. In this way I commemorated millions of murdered people”.
The Blahs worked in partnership with the German Department at the University of Leeds and Escape Contemporary Youth Theatre on a two year project creating devised theatre shows for performance at the Town Hall in Leeds on Holocaust Memorial Day.
The first project, Millions of Kisses, was performed by Escape on January 26th 2014 in the Town Hall and an extended version was performed at Ralph Thoresby Studio Theatre on the 24th and 25th March 2014.
The second project, Falling to our Knees, was performed at Leeds Town Hall on January 25th, with a repeat performance at the University of Leeds on January 27th for academics and students attending the two day conference and open to the public.
This year’s piece was devised in response to a travelling exhibition which Professor Taberner and his team at the University of Leeds created on ‘The German Experience of Coming to Terms with the Holocaust’, in collaboration with the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the UK National Holocaust Centre. The exhibition probed the relevance of the German experience of confronting a difficult past for other countries as they explore the darker aspects of their histories, including South Africa and the UK. The exhibition opened in January 2015, in Cape Town and at various sites in the UK, and it was accompanied by a series of public events in both countries, including performances of Falling to our Knees written by Anthony Haddon.
Laura Beacall worked as an intern from the University of Leeds, keeping a weekly BLOG about the process of Falling to our Knees on http://www.blahyouthperspective.blogspot.co.uk/ and the event was filmed by Dr. Matthew Boswell, footage of which can be seen here http://transnationalholocaustmemory.org/video/