Holocaust Survivor Testimony
On Friday 4 March 80 pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 had the incredible opportunity of hearing a testimony from Holocaust survivor Joanna Millan. Joanna gave an all-encompassing talk beginning with the Nuremburg laws and Nazi methods, setting the scene for her own story. Joanna’s moving testimony discussed her family and their persecution during their journey to Auschwitz before discussing her story of survival in Theresienstadt. The testimony moved the pupils as they discovered Joanna’s personal story of survival, the building of a new life after the war and search for the truth about her family. A question and answer session at the end of the testimony allowed the pupils to reflect and there were a dozen thought provoking questions asked.
Hearing a testimony is an incredible opportunity that allows the horrors of the Holocaust to come to life. Joanna’s heart-felt testimony allowed the pupils a deeper understanding into these events and their long lasting impact. Our thanks to Joanna for sharing her experiences with our pupils.
You can find out more about Joanna Millan on the Holocaust Educational Trust site. USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education has recordings of testimonies from other survivors.
As part of the National Curriculum our Key Stage 3 pupils learn about the Holocaust in Year 9 History and it is also covered in English, Religious Philosophy and Citizenship. Pupils taking GCSE History at Deer Park will study Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and this year we ran the first of hopefully many Key Stage 4 trips to Berlin aimed at deepening pupils’ understanding of the city’s Nazi past. Education is vitally important as we play our part in trying to ensure that something like the Holocaust never happens again - education can help individuals understand the dangers of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. As Joanna said to us, despite the occurrence of other genocides since The Holocaust, we must all continue to learn from humanity's mistakes and work towards solutions.
The current Syrian humanitarian crisis is the worst in Europe since World War Two and European Governments need to work together urgently to find a solution. We cannot stand by in the hope that someone else will step in. We all have a moral responsibility to act before this gets so much worse. The Holocaust Memorial Day theme in January this year was ‘Don’t Stand By’. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote powerfully about the impact of bystanders “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year - the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz - and is the most public form of Holocaust education. On 27 January we remember all the victims of genocide since the Nazi regime began including those who lost their lives in Rwanda, Kosovo and Cambodia. Events like this ensure that these atrocities are never forgotten and that the human race can continue to learn from the mistakes of our past.
I thought it was a very moving experience which helped me to understand the true events of the Holocaust.”
Jana, Year 10
I found the testimony a very thought-provoking experience and I will find the information very valuable towards my History GCSE.
Maddy, Year 10
I thought the testimony was a great insight into what actually happened. When you read something, you don’t take it in as well as when someone is in front of you speaking emotionally about it. It really puts the events into context.
Elliot, Year 9