Holocaust – Colour of Memory



Emmie Arbel


Barbara Yelin


Research Cluster Leads:
Charlotte Schallié (PhD)
Alexander Korb (PhD)
Research Assistant: Janine Wulz
Community Liaison:
Matthias Heyl (PhD) (Ravensbrück Memorial)


On February 7, 2020, Emmie Arbel met with graphic novelist Barbara Yelin in Kiryat Tiv’on, Israel to share her story as a child survivor of the Holocaust. From their first meeting, began an artistic and heartfelt collaboration, which led to the creation of the graphic novel ‘But I Live’, illustrating Emmie’s memories and experiences of the Holocaust. The conversations between Barbara and Emmie opened up new memories, continued even after ‘But I Live’ was published in May 2022. Emmie decided it was important to share more of her story, and with support from Barbara and new funding from SSHRC Partnership Grant, they embarked on the journey to create the full graphic novel memoir ‘Emmie Arbel: The Colour of Memory’.

Partners in Research

Emmie and I, we were in continuous dialogue with one another for almost four years. I showed her the drawings and the evolving story, and I took in her feedback.

Barbara Yelin

Sharing the Stories

Barbara Yelin has participated in numerous book signings, panels, and interviews sharing Emmie’s story and the significant memory work that led to the publication ‘Emmie Arbel. The Colour of Memory.’

The photographs in this carousel were taken at the Munich Literature House in November 2023 by Catherina Hess.

Image 1: Cover of ‘Emmie Arbel. Colour of Memory’

Image 2: Barbara Yelin

Image 3: Barbara presenting pages from ‘Emmie Arbel. Colour of Memory’

Image 4: Panelists from Munich Literature Festival

November 5, 2023: Wiesbaden. Kunsthaus [Art Museum]. With Alice Hoffmann. Moderation: Jakob Hoffmann.

November 6, 2023: Mainz. Haus der Erinners für Demokratie und Akzeptanz. With Alice Hoffmann.

November 13, 2023: Stuttgart. Bibliothek am Mailänder Platz [Library at the Mailänder Platz]. Moderation: Véronique Sina.

November 17, 2023: Munich. Literaturhaus [House of Literature]. With Menachem Kaiser. Moderation Niels Beintker.

November 29, 2023: Hamburg. Institute for the History of the German Jews. Moderation: Kim Wünschmann.

November 30, 2023: Rendsburg. Jewish Museum. With Matthias Heyl.

January 22, 2024: London, UK. The Wiener Holocaust Library. Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture (Online).

January 24, 2024: Dortmund, Schauraum: comic+cartoon. Moderation: Roman Kurth.

January 25, 2024: Frankfurt am Main. Literaturhaus [House of Literature in Frankfurt]. Moderation: Jakob Hoffmann.

January 30, 2024: Berlin. Literaturhaus [House of Literature in Berlin]. Moderation: Jakob Hoffmann.

January 31, 2024: Vienna. City Library, in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Vienna. Moderation: Hannes Sulzenbacher.

February 21, 2024: Freiburg im Breisgau. , Literaturhaus Freiburg [literature house Freiburg]. Moderation: Sandra Butsch

March 3, 2024: Zurich. Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zürich [Jewish Community of Zurich]. Moderation: Anika Reichwald.

March 8, 2024: Wiesbaden. Hochschule Fresenius.

March 10, 2024: Schauenburg. Schauenburger Märchenwache. Moderation: Thomas Koch.

March 11, 2024: Bochum. City Library.

March 12, 2024: Hannover. Feinkost Lampe. Moderation: Katinka Kornacker.

March 13, 2024: Bremen. Logbuchladen. Moderation; Axel Stiehler.

March 14, 2024: Esslingen. Hochschule Esslingen. Moderation: Nicole Reed.

March 19, 2024: Heidelberg. German-American Institute.

April 11, 2024: Berlin. Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. With Emmie Arbel and Pablo Ben Yakov.

April 23, 2024: Prettin. Lichtenburg Concentration Camp Memorial. Moderation: Alice Hoffmann.

April 24, 2024: Wittenberg. StadtLabor Wittenberg. With Pablo Ben Yakov.

May 6, 2024: Luxembourg. Institut Pierre Werner (IPW). Moderation Stefan Börnchen.

May 28, 2024: Hohenems. Literaturhaus Vorarlberg. With Frauke Kühn and Anika Reichwald.

July 4, 2024: Zürich. Institute for the Performing Arts and Film at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK Zürcher Hochschule der Künste). Research event. With Charlotte Schallié.

In January 2024, Barbara Yelin gave a virtual lecture for Holocaust Memorial Day on the theme of the Fragility of Freedom. The lecture recording above explores how Emmie’s story challenges the idea that freedom begins at liberation and shows how the impacts of oppression even in childhood can mark a life.

HMD 2024 was hosted by the Institute for the History of the German Jews in Hamburg,the Wiener Holocaust Library London, and the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Leicester.

From October 2023 to April 2024, the Freud Museum Vienna hosted Narrating Violence. A Comic-Exhibition. This exhibition “[featured] selected works by more than 30 international artists, spanning a range from the Shoah and individual experiences of violence in personal environments to current conflicts and the treatment of those seeking protection or of the oppressed” and explored the many ways that comics specifically can be used to share stories of violence. Pages from Barbara Yelin’s work with Emmie Arbel in the 2022 publication ‘But I Live’ were featured.

Photographs by Oliver Ottenschläger.

Sharing the Process

This collection of photos is from Charlotte’s visit to Barbara’s studio in Munich, Germany on June 18, 2023.

Top left: Reference materials and books.

Top right: Storyboard sketches.

Right: Barbara working on watercolours in her studio.

Conversations and Reflections

Rather than a formal documentary film, Barbara and Emmie recorded a reflection conversation about their work together after the graphic novel’s publication on November 6, 2023. Barbara recorded the footage, with filmmaker Martin Friedrich composing the final edit below. The graphic novel continues to be featured in the news, online and in workshops, which we will share here as part of the story of ‘Emmie Arbel: The Colour of Memory’.


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