Tudor Parfitt is a British Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Hello I am Tudor Parfitt, a professor at the University of London, SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies- where I have the honor of being Professor of Jewish Studies. I am very pleased to have been invited here in Paris as part of this historical visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp, especially in this delegation, a little strange and unusual, composed of Jews and Muslims. For me it was something a little astounding because, being a university professor who deals with this topic, I thought to know everything about the Holocaust and concentration camps. But to see this camp with my Jewish and Muslim colleagues, it was a really unexpected thing for me. May be also, there was something personal in there, because when I was young I volunteered in Jerusalem where I worked for a little over a year with disabled children. Most were Jews, there were some Arabs too. And among those children who are severely disabled, physically and mentally, there were some who, before coming to Israel, had been in concentration camps. And some women who have suffered horrific experiments in the camps had given birth to horribly disabled children who found themselves also in the institution for which I worked. And then of course, when I saw in Auschwitz a room full of crutches, false arm, false legs, I immediately thought of those children who survived. And the idea of a man who apparently had suffered other misfortunes in his life, if he had lost a leg or an arm, and to imagine him obliged to hang out naked with these prosthesis, affected me a lot. And I think that all this was very emotional for everyone. I actually could talk to the imams, and colleagues from Iraq, Morocco or Palestine. I think for everybody it was a very remarkable event both intellectually as emotionally and spiritually. So I thank the Aladdin Project for inviting me. It was an experience both terrible and very rewarding. And if this can help clear a bit more the idea of a shared humanity in the world, it will be something very well.