Year 10s listen to survivor’s first-hand account of the Holocaust at Beth Shalom in Nottinghamshire.
After arriving at Beth Shalom (House of Peace), we listened to an introductory talk and watched a powerful DVD to make us think not just about the Holocaust but about more recent genocides and how discrimination against minority groups and ‘foreigners’ is often a part of everyday society. How much have we really learnt from the past?
We visited the memorial gardens, the on-site bookshop and the underground exhibition, where we viewed artefacts and personal stories with interest. We were invited to add a stone to the ever-growing pile in the memorial gardens to represent the one and a half million children who were murdered in the Holocaust. Many of us read the plaques in the garden and discovered one man’s memorial to 81 members of his family who had been killed.
After lunch, we listened to our speaker for the day, Simon Winston, who miraculously escaped death as a young boy in Ukraine. He and his family, as Jews, had been sent into the ghetto. However, they managed to escape, thanks to the generosity and great risk taken by a kindly farmer, who hid them in a bunker under a pigsty.
We listened in silence as Simon spoke very movingly about his life and about what it meant to grow up in this almost unbelievable horror. Conscious that Holocaust survivors are becoming fewer by the day, we felt privileged to listen to this first-hand account of how the Holocaust had impacted on his life and the life of his family.
Opportunities for questions enabled us to reflect on our own attitudes and to delve deeper into the lessons of that period in our not-so-distant history. All in all, this was an inspiring and challenging visit to a very unique place. It was a fitting preface to the students’ forthcoming trip to Auschwitz in June.
Report by Mrs Holmes