Marina Helen Smith MBE D.Litt. was a much beloved woman with many friends, colleagues, and admirers. Her genuine interest in people and their lives extended across many decades and several continents. We have created this site to remember her life and extraordinary accomplishments.
This is also a place for you to share your own photos, memories, and favorite stories of Marina. Please do feel free to contribute your own written memories via a tribute and add your pictures or videos to your tributes too…
You can also visit StoryFile here to ask her questions about her life.
The Marina H Smith Foundation
If you would like to honour Marina at this time, we ask you to contribute to the Marina H Smith Foundation, which will benefit education and humanitarian programs close to her heart. Nothing would have made her happier than to know the work she dedicated her life to will carry on in her name. You can find out more information and pledge here.
A Life of Service to the Community
Marina Smith devoted her lifelong work to better understanding between peoples and communities. As a young woman, she was a high school teacher. After her marriage to Methodist Minister Eddie Smith, she dedicated her time to serving in the small industrial towns in which they were posted. Later, Marina and Eddie ran their own charity and community church which supported those in need in underserved communities in the UK and around the globe. In particular, she ran a series of charitable projects in Poland (1981-83), India (1985-1992) and Kosovo (1999).
Marina’s commitment to serve is best demonstrated by over two decades of work at The National Holocaust Centre, which she helped to found with her two sons, Stephen and James. As Education Director, she was actively and closely involved in all the work of the Centre.
Marina and Eddie had founded a small Christian retreat in 1978 to serve society in a broader way than in the Church itself. Devout Christians, they took their two sons to visit Israel in their teens. A decade later, when they came to discuss the need for British society to face the truth of the Holocaust, the family determined that they would dedicate the former retreat as a place of memorial and education about the Holocaust.
As a former teacher of Religious Education, Marina understood the importance of the Centre’s work in shaping the minds and attitudes of future generations. Its outcome is to combat racism, antisemitism and the kind of discrimination that leads to the exclusion of ‘the other’. Her pedagogical knowledge and experience in teaching in the classroom were fundamental to the creation and implementation of a highly successful Holocaust education programme.
Today, the result of that original idea is a world-recognised Holocaust centre with a wide-ranging education programme.
Marina understood the profound educational impact survivor speakers had on school children. She, therefore, designed an education programme that was testimony based. The success of this programme is reflected in the volume of letters of thanks and gratitude received from teachers, parents and pupils alike. Many of these describe how their visit to the Centre has changed their perceptions, their values and attitude forever.
Marina was key to the development of a network of survivor speakers. She organised their programme of speaking daily at the Centre and around the country, coordinating all aspects of their involvement, from training to the daily logistics of their speaking engagements.
Aware that recounting the past was a painful and sometimes distressing experience for the survivors, Marina ensured that every single speaker was welcomed and looked after on a personal basis and came alongside each in support and friendship. She considered the team of Holocaust survivors as honorary members of her own family, providing emotional and personal support in their work. Not a day would go by when she would not provide hospitality at her home. Through this close relationship, she consistently demonstrated her deep understanding of Holocaust survivors as people. It resulted in many close, personal friendships that the survivors found heart-warming and rewarding.
Survival: Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Story, is a collection of 46 survivor testimonies. Realising the importance of recording testimonies before it is too late, Marina created the original concept for the book and played a vital role in persuading the individual authors to put their ordeal into writing.