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National Holocaust Centre Visit 20th June 2019

 

On Thursday 20th June 40 students visited the National Holocaust Centre near Newark. The day consisted of a guided tour of the excellent museum and extensive memorial gardens, both of which were part of the original founder’s house. It certainly surprised me to discover the initial founders were not Jewish nor had any formal connection to the Holocaust until a chance trip to Israel ignited their passion for creating such a place of remembrance.

The education team were superb and soon had students engaging in many questions about the Holocaust and its significance, demonstrating how they had brought learning from inside the classroom into a new setting. Students learnt about pre-war Jewish life, the rise of the Nazis and the ideology which so poisoned many people’s views. They then looked at the terrible events which led up to the Holocaust and its aftermath. A very sobering morning was had by all.

Over lunchtime the poor weather lifted and students were able to explore the memorial gardens further, some chose to lay stones (a traditional sign of remembrance) on a memorial to the 1.5 million Jewish children that lost their lives. The centre has been open 20 years and there are around 750,000 stones to date, demonstrating just how long it will take to complete the memorial and what a loss those young lives were to our world today. The rose bushes are also a way of remembering those who lost their lives and the display was quite stunning yet saddening in equal measure.

In the afternoon we had the humbling opportunity to hear Holocaust survivor Ibby Knill speak, Ibby is now 96 and as a teenager at the time of WW2 recounted vividly her experiences. Growing up in Slovakia as a normal young girl, escaping to Hungary as a teenager and eventual capture and deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau at only 20 years old. Despite only being there for 6 weeks, what she saw has clearly remained with her forever.

A thought-provoking and challenging visit but one that we will certainly be repeating as the messages taken away are so invaluable to our modern lives.