Holocaust survivors share wartime experiences with Hemel students

Students visiting a Holocaust Learning event at Watford Synagogue heard a heartbreaking survivor from Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 11:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 2:57 pm

Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, Watford Synagogue welcomed students from The Hemel Hempstead School and Kings Langley School to an education session on this year’s theme ‘Stand Together’.

The students, from years 9 to 13, had the rare opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor recount their personal story and take part in a workshop relating historical facts about the Holocaust to contemporary issues such as racism, discrimination and personal responsibility.

Hannah recalled how the day her mother was shot dead by the Nazis, was the day her childhood ended.

Susan Pollack with West Herts College student Aaliyah Campbell-Brown

She said: “I saw her lying there with her blood staining the snow and I always say that is when I grew up. I now knew why she wasn’t looking at me when she left, as she always did, and that I mustn’t make a noise.”

Hannah was just eight, her father and his cousin had managed to escape to join the partisans, so Hannah had to fend for herself in the labour camp at Adampol. She was finally liberated in 1945 by a Russian soldier who picked her out of a trench, dirty and starving.

As well as Hannah, this year’s speakers sharing their remarkable stories of survival were Susan Pollack, Rachel (Ruzena) Levy, Ziggy Shipper and Manfred Goldberg.

Other schools who went to the educational sessions included Watford Boys’ Grammar, Challney Boys School in Luton), students studying Health & Social Care at Watford’s West Herts College also attended the event.

Kings Langley School students at Watford Synagogue's Holocaust Learning event

Councillor Ian Stotesbury and Watford Mayor Peter Taylor also attended the event. Mayor Taylor said: “It’s so important to learn about the Holocaust and hearing the survivors’ testimony first-hand today is incredibly powerful.

"With rising antisemitism today, it’s especially important for the next generation to hear where hatred can lead.”