West Exe School students take part in live national webcast with Holocaust survivor Hedi Argent MBE...
Students at West Exe School, part of the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust, have been taking part in a range of activities this week designed to have them learn more, and reflect on, the holocaust ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) on Saturday the 27th of January. The 27th of January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp and the theme of this year’s HMD is the fragility of freedom.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide, they promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of people murdered under Nazi persecution of other groups and during more recent genocides.
Throughout this week at West Exe School every student has attended an assembly on the significance of the Holocaust and genocide, based on resources and research from the Holocaust Education Trust. Students also watched testimonies from survivors from not only the Holocaust but other genocides such as Rwanda and Cambodia.
A group of students also took part in a live nationwide webcast organised by the Holocaust Education Trust and hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky OBE. Holocaust survivor Hedi Argent MBE delivered a deeply profound testimony of her experiences under Nazi persecution in the late 1930s and students had the ability to ask Hedi questions through a live webfeed.
Hedi Argent was born in 1929, and lived in a suburb of Vienna in Austria, the anti-Jewish laws and backlash that accompanied Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938 were something Hedi remembers very well. She remembers seeing Jews being made to scrub the pavements and having stones thrown at them. Hedi’s family arrived in England in 1939 and stayed in a safe house. After the war, Hedi and her parents wrote to the Red Cross to try and find their extended family; they found out that most of their other family members in Europe had been murdered during the Holocaust.
In the centre of the school, the students are being asked to reflect on a visual representation of the proportion of people killed during the Holocaust, with symbols representing approximately 200,000 human lives. Students have been discussing the fact that it was not just the Jewish population who were persecuted during the Holocaust and were shocked at the total numbers of deaths.
To finish the week, Year 7 and 8 students are reflecting on individual experiences of Holocaust and they are researching and creating commemoration cards to be displayed around the school, in order to draw a more personal connection to the individuals who lost their lives.
Julie Fossey, Headteacher at West Exe School said:
“I think it’s really important for young people to understand the history of the holocaust and to learn about more modern genocides. Though these are difficult topics, it is right that we learn about them and take the time to hear the stories of those that survived these horrors. There are not that many years left that children will be able to hear directly from a Holocaust survivor, so I am very grateful to Hedi Argent and the Holocaust Education Trust for making it possible for students to ask her questions.”
Moira Marder, CEO of the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust said:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is such a powerful day of reflection and I am glad to hear that students at West Exe have been engaging in a number of topical and thought provoking activities in the run up to it.”