Last week, to mark the Holocaust Memorial Day, students from St Benedict’s School took part in a live webcast with Holocaust survivor, Susan Pollack MBE.
Holocaust Memorial Day is marked each year on 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 2020, the 75th anniversary of liberation was marked.
Susan was born in Hungary and was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She survived working as a slave labourer and was sent on a death march to Bergen-Belsen where she was liberated by British Forces on 15th April 1945.
Hundreds of schools, organisations and individuals signed up to the webcast, and tens of thousands will bear witness to Susan’s story, following the 40,000 who joined the Trust for last year’s webcast.
During the webcast, the Year 9 St Benedict’s students listened to Susan recount her experiences in the infamous death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau and on the death march to one of the German concentration camps, Bergen-Belsen.
Susan then talked of her life since liberation and how she spreads the message of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of race or creed.
Miss Coan, Subject Leader for History at St Benedict’s said: “The students have spent the last term examining life in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust so they were able to understand the wider context of Susan’s experiences.”
“Lessons took place before the webcast so that students could discuss their expectations and prepare for Susan’s testimony. Subsequent lessons have allowed the students to share what they thought of Susan’s testimony and write thank you cards to her for sharing her story. These cards will be sent to the Holocaust Education Trust who will pass them on to Susan.”
In their thank you card, Charlotte Robinson and Lexia Hartley wrote: We would like to thank you (Susan) for sharing your story and inspiring others to do better in the world…We learned a lot from your testimony and we appreciate your bravery. We hope that you continue to share your story.
Here are some of our students’ thoughts and reflections.
Keelan Bellard said: “Susan’s testimony has taught us to never give up hope, even if the whole world is against you.”
Olivia Nicholson said: “We thought that hearing Susan’s testimony was a once in a lifetime opportunity because some people won’t be able to hear what we have heard.”
Adam Garner commented: “It is important to hear a Holocaust survivor’s testimony because it informs us about one person’s experience of a large-scale tragedy.”
Antonia Roberts said: “Listening to a Holocaust survivor’s testimony is important because such experiences need to be known so that it does not happen again.”