Holocaust Rememberance Day

On Wednesday 12 March we had a different day, focussed on the events of more than 60 years ago.

Jez set the scene by separating some staff and students out into a space that he told us was the size of a railway cattle truck. Political activists, gypsies, people with strange sounding names and others were all sent to the carriage. He said that 100 people would be crammed into the spaces with no food, water or toilet and be taken away to camp.

We were then told Erika’s story. In the story an old lady recounts how she had been rescued and brought up as a child with just a vague understanding that she had been thrown out of a cattle truck by her mother. The pictures Jez showed us were all grey, with no faces visible and only the odd flash of yellow, signifying the Star of David.

After discussing the story and the pictures we split into groups. Jez ran an English workshop where students wrote as if they were the mother or father of Erika. They wrote a brief note to their baby Erika in pencil on a postcard. Then they imagined the letter they would write to their mother when they were 10 or 11 years old.

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Hairy Phil ran an Art workshop where we created an installation by folding 500 squares of white paper into free-standing shapes. At the end of the workshop after folding so many white sheets we folded one yellow one. It was a pleasure and relief to do something different – a bit like working in a factory. Students then covered the art room floor and photographed the very powerful effect.

After break some students went home and others joined us. Two new workshops started up. Chris thought about some of the science involved – evolution and genetics and modern genetic engineering. Some horrible experiments were done on prisoners, especially young twins. We modelled modern genetic engineering and thought about how ethical choices were made.

Vicky and Rebecca ran a workshop where they considered what it must have been like as a child in the concentration camp. the discussion focussed on the picutre of a young girl on a cattle transport train. What were the emotions likely to be for the people there? The group then heard first-hand accounts of children who had been in camps. The discussion moved on to current times with immigrants and refugees; how they might feel as they live and work away from home and family.

Shiny Phil and Julia had been working away all morning and layed on a fantastic lunch with lots of Jewish food. A very special thanks to Andrew’s wife for providing a lot of wonderful food for this.

The day helped us all explore some of the horrors, thoughts and feelings that might have been experienced by lots of innocent men, women and children who for no other reason than being different were persecuted and put to death in modern times.

One passage comes to mind:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Written on Sunday, April 19th, 2009 at 10:43 am by Ian. Filed under curriculum, Links for students.

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