“I did know the background story but I didn’t expect to find something like small objects because I thought that when they left and when the boys left the area, they took everything with them because they didn’t have no things with them anyway. And I didn’t expect to find things like the comb or the small unicorn. I didn’t expect to find these.
I was excited. I mean with every small things, I was so excited. Especially with the keyhole. I found the keyhole and my friend found the key and we were like, oh so there must be a door somewhere here….it was on the next trench but quite near.
I talked to some of the people who came here and one lady told me that she still lives in the area for forty years and she had no idea. She’s a teacher, she teaches German at school and she said that she had no idea, no one said anything for forty years and she only figured out about the Holocaust thing because of your project and I was surprised, I mean she lives here for forty years, forty years and her husband is German. He moved in when he was really young because there were communists. And they are in the German community and no one said a word about it.
So it feels like there is a gap in history, that’s all. It feels like there is a big gap in history and this project fills that gap. (When you met the Holocaust Survivors?) I couldn’t stop crying. (I talked) about his (Sam Laskier) memories, before they came, during his days here, what was his life after he left the estate. He was so excited about the fact that when he came here he had a bed, his own bed. I mean the first thing he said, it was ‘I had my own bed!
And then I felt like he loves. I don’t know how well they know each other, like the boys. I mean they are three hundred people, right? I don’t know how well they manage to learn about each other but it felt like they were a family.
From a forensic point of view, this project was an opportunity for us to learn more regarding the Holocaust and concentration camps not only through literature but also by listening to the survivors’ experiences.
From an archaeological point of view, we got involved in the full archaeological procedure, we applied our knowledge on the interpretation of an archaeological field and finally, we experienced the satisfaction of finding buried artefacts which strengthen the initial hypothesis.
From a more personal point of view, this project was an opportunity of a lifetime. The fact we were on the place the survivors lived, each piece of brick or building material we found, as well as living in Windermere with a small group of people we’ve only recently met (and yet ended up feeling like we’re family), took us back in time and gave us a taste of the same emotions “the Boys” had when they first arrived at Calgarth Estate.”
Thaleia Marioli – August 2019