Holocaust Memorial: Torn From Home

Posted on: 25/02/2019

On the 6th and 7th February, thirty students from Years 8 and 12 attended workshops at Belmont United Synagogue to participate in this year’s Holocaust Memorial event, Torn from Home. Students were able to participate in age-appropriate workshops to increase their understanding of the Holocaust, whilst also learning about the atrocities of equally devastating genocides in places such as Rwanda and Cambodia. The workshops both help to educate students, whilst ensuring that they have to the urge to continue to spread awareness of these atrocities, so that genocides of these magnitudes do not happen again.

Students then had the unique opportunity to experience a first-hand account from a Holocaust survivor. On Wednesday afternoon, students heard the heart-wrenching account from Hannah Lewis MBE. Hannah was born in Poland in 1937 and had enjoyed a very happy and loving childhood in a small market town on the Bug River. However, in 1943 she was forcibly rounded up and marked to a labour camp in the village of Adampol. Over time, most of her family disappeared. Her father and his cousin managed to escape and joined the partisans. Only Hannah and her mother remained in Adampol. One of the things that the partisans did in the area was to warn Jews in work camps and other places of imminent raids by German killing squads if they had discovered the information. In the last winter of the occupation, Hannah fell ill with a high temperature and suspected typhoid, so her mother would not leave when her father came to warn them of the impending action the following day. The next morning the German police arrived and her mother, with other people, was taken and lined up by the village well, where she was shot. Hannah remained in the camp and survived as best she could. She was finally liberated by a Soviet soldier who picked her out of a trench; dirty and very hungry. After the war her father found her and they lived in Łódź. Eventually, in 1949, Hannah was brought on her own to Britain to live with her great aunt and uncle in London.

Hannah still lives in London, having married in 1961 and had four children and eight grandchildren. She has been sharing her experiences in schools and universities for several years so that young people today can seek to understand the impact the Holocaust has had on the contemporary world.

All of the students who attended found this to be an important experience, giving them a small insight into the individual stories behind the magnitude of the Holocaust.

I would like to thank all students for their continued respectful nature whilst taking part in this event.

Miss Ervin
Head of Department