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Holocaust Memorial Day

On Wednesday 1st February, our Year 12 History students were fortunate enough to attend the Wirral Commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day at the Floral Pavilion

Holocaust Memorial Day 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day logo On Wednesday 1st February, our Year 12 History students were fortunate enough to attend the Wirral Commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton. The event coincides with Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held on the 27th January every year. Each year, we take the opportunity to remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945. It also provides us with a chance to reflect on this episode in history and the subsequent genocides that have followed and how we can prevent them in the future.

The afternoon began with the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Moira McLaughlin, officially opening the event. This was followed by Mark Parkinson, Head of Branch for Learning and Achievement, who provided an opening address which touched upon this year’s theme of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. It was a poignant reminder that each of us has a duty to speak out against injustice when we witness it and can have a positive influence on those around us. Our students agreed that Mr Parkinson’s speech was very interesting and provided an invaluable context to the afternoon. At one point, he asked each person in attendance to stand up and slowly sections of the audience sat down to represent sections of society that were victims of the Holocaust. It was a timely reminder that not only were 6 million Jews systematically destroyed by the Nazis but homosexuals, political opponents, people with disabilities and Soviet prisoners of war took the total number of victims to between 11 and 17 million.

Speak up, speak out This was followed by a ‘Statement of Commitment’ read by a variety of students from Wirral schools accompanied by the lighting of memorial candles. Students from Prenton High School then spoke and provided the audience with an account of their recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest death camp of the Nazi regime. Their speech was particularly moving and showed us that visiting a site of such significance can have a profound impact.

Rudi Oppenheimer The final part of the afternoon was provided by Holocaust survivor, Rudi Oppenheimer. Since 2008, Rudi has been providing students of the Wirral with a heart wrenching, interesting and sometimes even humorous account of his experience of living through the Holocaust. Rudi described how after living in Berlin, London and Amsterdam, the Nazi regime tightened their grip on every aspect of his life. Year 12 student Liam Glasson believed this part of Rudi’s speech was particularly interesting. Rudi described how he was in constant fear of being selected for deportation to a work camp by the Nazis whilst living in Amsterdam. Moreover, Liam also noted how interesting Rudi’s description of the atrocious conditions in the Bergen-Belsen work camp. Whilst Rudi’s is just one of millions of similar yet uniquely different stories, the students noted that it helped them recognise the hardships that so many had to endure and the small details which determined life or death.

The students felt that Rudi’s experience was an extremely helpful tool in progressing their understanding of life during the Holocaust. By providing such a vivid insight into a dark period of history that they are only able to read about, the students agreed that a such a speech provides us with the stories that vitally, we must pass on to future generations.