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Object of the Moment: Axel Landmann’s suitcase

January 27, 201910:17 amSeptember 25, 2023 10:19 amLeave a Comment
Photography for The Peace Museum, October/November 2016.

Published on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: Torn From Home

Just twenty years after the destruction of the First World War, Europe and the rest of the world was thrust into conflict again. Throughout the inter-war period, many groups had campaigned for peace, but to no avail.

To mark The Peace Museum’s 20th anniversary, we are publishing a short series of blogs about some of the 20 objects featured in our new exhibition Pieces of Peace: A History of Peace in 20 Objects. These objects, although ordinary, tell the extraordinary stories of those caught in the middle of war.

Axel Landmann’s suitcase is an object which sheds light on the stories of those forced to flee their homes. He was part of the ‘Kindertransport’, an organised effort to bring Jewish children to safety from Germany to Britain. Axel was only nine years old when he had to leave his home and family behind, travelling alone with only one suitcase. He was cared for in Britain by a family in Northampton. His parents were victims of the Holocaust, and so he stayed in Britain for the rest of his life. Axel took the suitcase everywhere with him – on honeymoon, work trips, even holidays – before deciding that it should go to the museum so that the stories of people like him are remembered by future generations.

The Second World War affected people all across the world, and one of the final, devastating acts was the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945.  Over 100,000 people were killed instantly by the bomb, and the roof tiles in the museum still bear the scars of the bomb and its deadly radiation.

Never Again – The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

After the horrors of the two atomic bombs dropped at the end of the Second World War, fears began to grow about whether these weapons could be used again in the future. With tensions between the Soviet Union and America growing, many feared that the use of nuclear weapons in warfare would soon become a reality. In 1957 J. B. Priestly, a Bradfordian, wrote an article titled ‘Britain and the Nuclear Bombs’ which led to the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Written by Catherine Warr (Museum Volunteer)

Axel Landmann’s suitcase is used in our Education Programme workshop Everyone Comes From Somewhere in which pupils reflect on the issues of making a new life in a new place and create their own collage artwork, displaying their ideas about what is special about Bradford to welcome people to the city.

Written by Ezra Kingston

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