Wednesday 27 January is Holocaust Memorial Day. This is a national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
On Wednesday, Year 9 students will not do their usual lessons. Instead, they will have three lessons in the morning run by the History, RE and MFL departments, aimed at achieving a better understanding of the Holocaust that took place during the Second World War and what the Holocaust means today. In the afternoon, they will watch a film about a young woman who was part of the White Rose non-violent German resistance movement in Nazi Germany and then write their reflections on the day onto pieces of card to be hung on a memory tree in reception.
The day will begin with a performance by Creative Learning Partnerships. The performance uses words of holocaust survivors from the Second World War and more recent genocides as a mechanism for remembrance and an understanding of our collective responsibility to stop prejudice and discrimination. 28 Year 9 students have also opted to take part in a drama workshop run by Creative Learning Partnerships and the York Human Rights City Network. This workshop will explore experiences from genocides across the world and through the ages. Students will explore how these atrocities have been reflected through art, politics and law, and whether we process genocide differently now than in the past.
Sir Nicholas Winton Assembly
In preparation for Holocaust Memorial Day all students attended an assembly this week lead by Mr Noble, Head of RE. The assembly, based on this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme of Don’t Stand By, looked at the work of Sir Nicholas Winton. On 9 November 1938, Nazi storm troopers along with members of the SS and Hitler Youth beat and murdered Jews, broke into and wrecked Jewish homes, and brutalised Jewish women and children while German authorities looked on without intervening.
Following this, British authorities agreed to allow an unspecified number of children under the age of 17 to enter Great Britain from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The families of the children had to pay £50; in return, the British government agreed to allow children to enter the country on temporary travel visas. Parents and carers could not accompany the children. In all, the rescue operation brought about 9,000 to 10,000 children to Great Britain; some 7,500 of these children were Jewish.
Sir Nicholas Winton worked to arrange everything the children needed, including finding host families and raising funds to cover the travel expenses of the children. Winton was able to arrange for 669 children to come to the UK, the majority of whom were Jewish. In 1988, Winton was invited to appear on the TV programme That’s Life where, to his surprise, he was reunited with some of the children, now adults, he had helped. For most of them it was the first time they found out who had rescued them. You can watch a clip from the programme below:
Winton was subsequently awarded many honours, including a knighthood, the Freedom of the Cities of both Prague and London, and the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic’s highest honour.
You can see a copy of Mr Noble’s assembly presentation by clicking here.