Wednesday 27 January 2016 is Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). It is a day for everyone to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the millions of people killed Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The HMD slogan for 2016 is 'Don't Stand By'.
On HMD we can honour the survivors of these regimes of hatred and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.
HMD is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the UK; we are not at risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.
Students at Tupton Hall School will be learning about Holocaust Memorial Day and discussing what they can do to ensure they 'Don't Stand By'.
Read this story (and watch the video) which marks a visit from Holocaust survivor Martin Stern.
The moving account of a Holocaust survivor was delivered to students as part of Tupton Hall School's very first Genocide Awareness Day. In 1944 Martin Stern found himself thrust into the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp at the age of just five. But he lived to tell his story and now delivers powerful testimony to audiences through the Holocaust Educational Trust. Martin, now aged 75, survived the Westerbork transit camp in Holland, where he grew up, and also Thereseinstadt camp-ghetto in what was then Czechoslovakia.
More than 100 gifted and talented students listened as he described the social, economic and political climate which led to the Nazi invasion of Holland. And the subsequent persecution and atrocities suffered by the Jewish population. Students were from Year 9 and also Tupton Hall’s History Club. After Martin’s talk a brief question and answer session allowed them to show their exceptional knowledge of the subject, as well as a desire to make a difference in preventing future crimes against humanity.
“It was a privilege for us to welcome Martin Stern to our school,” said History teacher and Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator Mr Jonathan Beeley. “Learning about his experiences and ideas for how we can all help make a positive difference in the future has undoubtedly motivated our students to learn from history. Genocide Awareness Day is therefore designed to encourage students’ desire to make a difference both locally and globally as responsible, proactive participants in society.”
Students enjoyed a full day’s programme of activities run by the AEGIS Trust and Holocaust Educational Trust, learning about children from the Theresienstadt ghetto, creating messages to commemorate those children’s lives, and learning about contemporary genocides.
Said Mr Beeley: “This initiative absolutely links to the school’s motive to encourage the students to proactively make an impact on matters that are important to them. As one of the largest secondary schools in the county and a key driver for cultural change in the local community, we are steadfast in our belief that events such as these can make a lasting, tangible difference to young people’s expectations of, and actions within, their communities.”
The visit was part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach Programme, available to schools across the UK.
A Holocaust Educational Trust spokesperson said: “Our aim is to educate and engage students from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor. Students have had the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead."
An AEGIS Trust spokesperson added: “At the Trust, we impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”