Commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day

30 January 2023


Last week we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day.

On Thursday, Jewish Society invited Holocaust Survivor, Henri Obstfeld to speak at Senior Societies. Henri was born in Amsterdam in 1940 and was mistakenly called up to the military at the age of two. As the war began to escalate he was forced to go into hiding, away from his family where he posed as a nephew of his foster parents. Thankfully after Amsterdam was liberated in 1945 Henri was reunited with his parents and now spends his time sharing his story to further educate on the Holocaust.

On Thursday evening, Dame Helen Hyde gave a talk entitled, ‘Studying the Holocaust through Art’. Dame Helens a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Imperial War Museum. She is a Trustee of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, the Holocaust Education Trust, and an advisor to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. She also chaired the education workstream for the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission.

On Friday, Jewish Society led a touching and thought-provoking assembly looking at this year’s theme ‘Ordinary People’. During the assembly, we heard about all the ‘ordinary people’ involved in the holocaust, from the victims to the heroes and the perpetrators.

You can view Jewish Society’s assembly here.

HMD Assembly

The Junior School also commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day with Year 3 having a form time discussion and remembrance activity whilst Year 4 discussed pre-war Jewish culture.

Students in Year 5 watched a webinar hosted by the Anne Frank Trust of an interview with author and Holocaust Survivor Peter Lantos.

Peter Lantos was born in 1939 in Makó, a small provincial town in the south-eastern corner of Hungary. In the summer of 1944 he was deported with his parents to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany where his father died of starvation. He and his mother survived and were liberated by the US Army outside Magdeburg which soon afterwards became the Soviet zone of occupation. After several months of uncertainty, they escaped from the Russians, and travelling across war-torn Europe returned to Hungary. Many members of his large family had perished in the Holocaust. This childhood experience formed the basis of his first book, Parallel Lines.

Peter’s new book The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die describes an extraordinary journey, made by Peter, a boy of five, through war-torn Europe in 1944 and 1945. Peter and his parents set out from a small Hungarian town, travelling through Austria and then Germany together.

Year 6 had a discussion in form time focusing on what Holocaust Memorial day is and how it is marked. They discussed the importance and power of having a voice and speaking out against hatred and prejudice. They looked at a poem about racism and discussed discrimination. Year 6 also has a visit planned in March from the National Holocaust Education Centre.