Year 9 students from Parmiter’s School attended a Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday 3 February.
40 Religious Studies pupils visited Northwood United Synagogue and spoke with a survivor of the holocaust, Gerald Granton, who fled Nazi persecution in 1939.
Students took part in workshops, listened to a compelling talk with Gerald Granton and had the opportunity to ask him questions about his experiences.
Mr Poulton, a member of the RS department said: “Students found the day really interesting and thought-provoking. We have been taking our Year 9s to Holocaust Memorial Day events for many years, and each time they show great maturity and value the opportunity. As years go by, the opportunities to speak to a survivor directly diminish and they appreciated that they were very fortunate to be able to learn so much from the experience.”
Students learnt about the context of the Holocaust, the way prejudice was used, and the effect of the Nuremberg Laws such as banning the ownership of phones, bikes and radios.
Gerald also told the story of his experience as a child in Nazi Germany, how school friends almost overnight began to chase and shout at him and how the local synagogue, chaired by his grandfather, was destroyed on Kristallnacht – the night of the broken glass.
Students asked Gerald thought-provoking questions about his own experiences and wrote him postcards expressing their gratitude for his time.
One year nine pupil Alice wrote: “Thank you so much for sharing your story, I am truly sorry that something that awful has happened to you. It is inspiring that you are able to speak freely about what has happened even though you have been through a lot of trauma.”
Another student Brianna told Gerald: “All of us young people listening to you took the important message. To fight together against prejudice and to ensure that similar things to the holocaust don’t repeat themselves.”
Ms Stylianou, Head of Religious Studies said: “I have been organising this trip for the past 15 years at Parmiter’s and each time we take the students we learn something new. It is so important to learn from these past atrocities and celebrate our unique differences. We must also always speak up against human injustice and defend others when their rights are taken away.”