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The current turmoil in the Middle East and the mass movement of people across borders in search of safety from persecution provided a pertinent present day backdrop for our students when they visited the The National Holocaust Centre and Museum at Laxton, near Newark.
Along with the educational activities, Year 8 students also had the opportunity to hear first hand the experience of a Holocaust survivor who escaped Germany as child on the Kinder Transport. Susi Bechhofer was fortunate to gain passage with her twin sister at her mother’s bequest. Unfortunately her sister died as a child, and her mother and a large number of her mother’s siblings died in the Nazi death camps. Susi found this out much later as a result of researching her true family history.
Tom Brooksby, Headmaster, says: “It is important that we provide our students with opportunities to learn about history-shaping events, such as the Holocaust, and the impact these have on the lives of ordinary people, as well as whole societies. We prepared students for the experience with a number of lessons dedicated to the subject before and after the visit. All those involved at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial and Education centre did a wonderful job of imparting their insight in a sensitive and stimulating way.”
The group of Year 8 students experienced a thought-provoking day with many exhibits and activities helping to develop a greater knowledge about the events of the Holocaust and the impact it still has on the world we live in today. From having a walk round the memorial gardens to listening to the courageous stories of holocaust survivors, the visit was an important educational experience promoting a deeper understanding of the history of Judaism.
A number of Year 8 students reflected on their visit. Adam Lawer said: “It was shocking to find out what really happened.” Owen Jackson said: “It was a very informative visit that was pitched at all ages.” Charlotte Nutty commented: “It was inspirational”, whilst Bayleigh Steemson Weir summed up his visit: “It helped to express my feelings to the actual people.”
The National Holocaust Centre and Museum promotes an understanding of the roots of discrimination and prejudice, and the development of ethical values, leading to a greater understanding within society. The Centre promotes respect for human rights, equal opportunities and good citizenship, which has greater resonance than ever in today’s culturally diverse society.