PUPILS around the Stratford district heard moving life stories from Holocaust survivors who encouraged them to speak out against discrimination and hate.
Year 8 students at Henley School heard a presentation on Monday 29th January from Harry Bibring, a Holocaust survivor who came to the UK with the Kindertransport, a rescue effort of Jewish children to England.
The visit was organised through the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) in connection with Holocaust Memorial Day, which was on Saturday, 27th January.
Mr Bibring, who was born in Vienna, Austria, shared his life story, and how what he went through relates to current events today.
He said: “I was saved from the gas chambers by the Kindertransport. I came to this country at the age of 13, and my sister was 15. My father died on the way to a concentration camp in a van of a heart attack. My mother was eventually killed in an extermination camp in Sobibor (Poland).”
Mr Bibring, now 92 years old, speaks at 40 to 50 schools a year across the country through the HET.
Mr Bibring said: “I want to do a little bit to try and educate people not to repeat the same mistakes. Maybe one day we can all live on the planet together without hate.”
The presentation involved encouraging pupils to recognise and speak out against discrimination and hate.
He added: “The main theme is we’ve learned nothing from it. We’ve got to stop having prejudices of other people. The 20th century hasn’t learned this lesson yet.”
One of the students, Madeleine Gasper, said: “It was really good to have someone here that actually experienced it and was evacuated.”
Edward Xifaras said: “It was amazing how he was so casual about opening up all his emotions and experiences to us. I think it’s quite impressive after everything that’s happened.”
Assistant Headteacher, Laura Laszcz, said: “Harry linked the Holocaust to modern day prejudice. He explored the issues which were happening during the Holocaust.
“He shared some examples with the students about modern day discrimination. This allowed the students to consider their impact upon the wider community and how powerful words can be. Words can make a difference – both for good and evil. The power of words is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018.”
Another Holocaust survivor and Kindertransport child, 86-year-old John Fieldsend spoke at Sibford School near Shipston on Friday, 26th January, of the time in 1936 when Hitler visited his then hometown Dresden, Germany.
Mr Fieldsend said: “As Jews, we kept out of the way and locked ourselves in our flat but we could still hear Hitler addressing the crowd. He was shouting ‘Die Juden’ his voice is forever locked in my head – and I can’t find the off switch.”
He added: “This school, like many others has an anti-bullying policy. At my school, we had a bullying policy… if you were Jewish then you got bullied.”
Students at Chipping Campden School also heard Holocaust survivor Janine Webber speak via a live webcast as part of the Memorial Day.