Following a survey two years ago that revealed that two per cent of UK teenagers aged between 11 and 16 thought that Auschwitz was the name of a type of beer, eight per cent thought it was a country and 10 per cent admitted they didn’t know what it was at all, a new website, The Holocaust Explained, has been launched, aimed specifically at young people. The site has been spearheaded by the London Jewish Cultural Centre and is designed to promote independent learning about the Holocaust outside the classroom by students across the UK.
An autograph book filled with inscriptions written by First World War soldiers staying at a military hospital, now Shepworth village hall, has been discovered just six weeks after a First World War postcard was unearthed at the former hospital. The book once belonged to Mary Chamberlain, who regularly visited the soldiers during their stay, and was recently found by her son, Roy, among old photographs at his home. The book contains names, sketches and even poems written by recuperating soldiers, many of whom were later killed in battle.
Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin, who was plagued by hallucinations during his life, may have had epilepsy, according to Spanish researchers. Chopin died at the age of 39 of a lung disease now thought to have been due to cystic fibrosis, but doctors in Spain believe he may have also had temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition known to cause sufferers to experience strange visions and intense emotions. Letters written by the composer reveal the extent of his visual hallucinations; one refers to creatures emerging from his piano.
A number of historians and the Scottish government have appealed for a letter, allegedly taken from Scottish hero William Wallace after he was captured by the English, to be handed to Scotland’s National Archives. The letter appears to grant Wallace safe passage to visit the pope in 1300, but the National Archives in London has said that there is no firm evidence that the letter was ever in Wallace’s possession, nor any proof that he visited, or intended to visit, the papal court. The letter is currently being examined by experts at the National Archives and the National Archives of Scotland.
An 18th-century painting by William Hoare, believed to be the first British portrait of a freed slave, is to remain in the UK for the next five years after Qatar Museums Authority agreed to lend the work. It is hoped that the portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo will help shed new light on “cultural and intellectual exchanges in the first half of the 18th century”.