9:02am Saturday 28th June 2014
HOLOCAUST survivor Rudi Oppenheimer gave an open and emotional account of his time inside a concentration camp to pupils and staff at Archway School.
Mr Oppenheimer, who was at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the 1940s with his parents, his brother and his sister, spoke to a group of Year nine and Year ten students at the school in Paganhill for over an hour.
He told the pupils how he lost both his parents to the foul conditions of the camp, in which he was imprisoned between January and April 1945.
The testimony was followed by a question and answer session to enable pupils to better understand the nature of the Holocaust, and to explore its lessons in more depth.
Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust which organised the visit, said: "The Holocaust Educational Trust educates and engages students from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor.
"Rudi Oppenheimer’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing her testimony, students will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.
“We impart the history of the Holocaust to young people to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”
Archway School pupils have also recently visited Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as part of a history trip.
Religious studies teacher Jane Coleman said the talk was very honest and got through to all of the students.
“He had a very matter-of-fact manner and a brilliant memory of what happened which had many of us in tears” she said.
“We aim to humanise the holocaust for our students and this talk made it very real. Lessons need to be learnt from the holocaust and it’s important these students were able to see this talk as they can pass it on to future generations.”
Stroud MP Neil Carmichael, who also attended the event, said: “The innovative approach to teaching and learning at Archway School has enabled students to hear and reflect on the powerful personal testimony from one who survived the events of the Holocaust.
"The lessons the students have learned from this will undoubtedly enable them to be better citizens both now and in the future.”
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