Events have been taking place to commemorate the fact that Sunday 27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day.
To make sure pupils know why it is so important to remember the Holocaust, teachers and students have been delivering assemblies. Several teachers and students have actually visited Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps. They shared their own feelings about visiting such a historically important place as well as some of the lesser known aspects of the Holocaust.
On 24th January, a group of Year 12 History and Philosophy & Ethics students took part in a webchat with Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro and this was chaired by Robert Rinder, whose grandfather was also a survivor of the holocaust. Harry Spiro grew up in Piotrków in Poland and his family observed the Jewish faith and his traditions. As a child, he had a very happy home and grew up in a society where both Jews and non-Jews would mix and he has no real memories of anti-Semitism as a young child. At the age of 10, World War 2 broke out as Adolf Hitler invaded Poland and life was to change beyond recognition for Harry and his family. They were immediately moved into a ghetto in the town of Piotrków, the first ghetto in Poland, and from there he worked in a glass factory. In 1940, the Nazis ordered for the ghetto to be cleared and all of Harry’s family were sent to Treblinka where they were gassed upon arrival. Harry was saved as he was at work but, eventually, he was taken to Buchenwald in Germany and in the last days of the war was taken on a Death March to Terezin in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia where he was liberated.
Upon his liberation he came to England with a group of 732 teenage boys and girls who became known as ‘the boys’. He has since married and has a family of his own, being a grandfather and great-grandfather.
At the conclusion of sharing his experiences, Mr Spiro was asked whether he feels any hatred because of what happened to him and his family. His reply was this: “I came to the conclusion a long time ago that hating people doesn’t achieve anything. People are capable of doing horrendous things to each other, but that isn’t overcome by yet more hate.”