Beaconsfield High School

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Holocaust Survivor Visits School as Part of Wider Education Programme

By Kavya Sharma, Senior Marketing Prefect, and Anya Logue, participant in the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' programme

 Beaconsfield High School this week had the extreme honour of welcoming Uri Winterstein, a holocaust survivor who provides his testimony of his experiences on behalf of the Holocaust Educational Trust. During the event, Sixth Formers and Year 11 students listened to Mr Winterstein’s testimony, where he shared details of his family’s experiences, losses and lessons that can be learnt for the modern world.

Mr Winterstein was a toddler when the war ended, so his experiences of the Holocaust are mostly secondhand from his family. Nine of his relatives were murdered in the Holocaust, although his immediate family – father, mother and older sister – all survived. His father was a member of the Working Group, which managed to save many lives by bribing SS officers to stop deportations of Jews from Slovakia from 1942 to 1944.

As well as his testimony, Mr Winterstein shared photographs, maps and some of his family’s memoirs, including his mother’s Star of David. Mr Winterstein was keen to stress the importance of tolerance. He felt an event like the Holocaust “stems from the ignorance of the other” (in the case of World War 2, the Jews) where this “ignorance can slide into fear and hatred… very quickly.”

Earlier this year, students from Beaconsfield High School’s Sixth Form visited Auschwitz as part of the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ programme, organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust. Based on the premise that 'hearing is not like seeing', this four-part course explores the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance for today. The LFA Project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust for young people and to clearly highlight what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable. The visits to the former Nazi concentration and death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau are preceded and followed by half-day seminars in order to ensure an exceptional educational experience.

Rachel Smith, Headteacher at Beaconsfield High School comments: “Students were encouraged by Mr Winterstein to learn from past attitudes and ignorance in order to influence modern society, where the atrocities of genocide and conflict have and continue to be common occurrences. The work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is so vital in broadening the perspectives of the younger generations, both ethically and morally."

http://www.het.org.uk/lessons-from-auschwitz-programme