It was an informative day out where we learnt lots about the Holocaust.
Mathilde & Georgia 9C:
On the 25 January, all of Year 9 went on a trip to the Jewish Museum in Camden. We met the lovely volunteers, and split into groups for activities. First of all, we learnt the story of the brave Leon Greenman, a British man who, with his wife, went to Auschwitz unfairly due to being Jewish. His story was very harrowing, and something we will remember forever. Then we went to learn about how Jewish men and women were forced to have their identity removed, and being given only a number for a name, tattooed on - so even when they were liberated they would be reminded of how poorly they were treated, reminding them of the terror years later. Next, we toured the gallery of many different things from the war; it included children’s belongings such as toys and shoes, pieces from concentration camps such as real striped pyjamas and many other objects used in the war lifestyle. Seeing and learning about real pieces from the war was very interesting.
Then we learnt about the amazing spice box. During the Holocaust, a woman sent her two sons away to avoid persecution. She feared being captured by the Germans and so she had a box of things that she gave to another woman to look after in case her sons returned. This included a spice box used on the holy day, Sabbath day. Unfortunately, soon after that she was taken away to a concentration camp and presumed dead. Years later, one of the sons returned to their old house and talked to their old neighbours about their childhood. Then he was presented with the spice box which reminded him of his mother and childhood. The spice box represented peace and happiness which allowed him to be reminded of the happiness the family shared together.
After a quick lunch, we were incredibly lucky to meet a wonderful couple who were taken to Britain as child refugees. The kindertransport was a system set up which allowed 10,000 lone child refugees to enter Britain. Bob & Ann Kirk told us of their story, trying to evade Nazi persecution as young children. They managed to be taken to Britain where they had sponsors to look after them until they grew up - but there were many struggles they had to go through. For example, letters were written to Ann & Bob, but the Red Cross only allowed 25 words per letter. They could also be censored, and the checkers could tell multiple different languages, as Ann’s father wrote in Latin, but it was still recognised and censored. After the war, they decided to tell people of their troubles, and we felt incredibly lucky to be in their company. We had such an incredible time to learn about their stories and to meet such inspirational people, and we thank the History department and all of the staff at the Jewish Museum for our trip, it was very informative, we all learnt a lot, and we’ll remember it forever.
Rahima and Alissia 9T:
On Thursday, the 25 January Year 9 went on a trip to the Jewish Museum in Camden. It was an informative day out, where we learnt lots about the Holocaust.
First, we were introduced to the guides. They showed us old Jewish-German passports, which dated back to 1939, and a Star of David that the Jews of the time had to wear. We were able to look at them closely and even touch them. We were also told a fascinating story about a ‘spice box.’ This was used during the last few hours of the Sabbath when it would be passed around the table and everyone would smell the spices inside and wish each other luck for the week ahead. This one belonged to a woman called Gertrude, from Berlin. She managed to get her children onto the kindertransport to safety in Britain. During the war, she noticed that Jews were disappearing, so she left a box of valuables with a neighbour, who buried it in her garden. This box contained things like her sons’ toddler shoes and a family photo album. Gertrude did not survive the war, but years later, one of her sons came looking for the street he’d grown up on, and found the box. This was an amazing story to hear and gave us a good idea of what life was like during the Holocaust.
We were also lucky to learn about some of the individuals in the Holocaust. We looked at the exhibition of Leon Greenman, an inspiring man who survived a horrific ordeal in Auschwitz, losing his wife and child, and then dedicated his life to fighting racism. The highlight was meeting a Jewish couple called Bob and Ann Kirk. Ann and her family had to leave their family home and their boat, and after Kristallnacht (a night of violence against the Jews in 1938), her family moved around a lot to avoid being arrested. At the age of 10 Ann was put on the kindertransport without really understanding what was going on in Germany at the time. When she arrived in the UK, she stayed with two women, who she considered aunties. Ann wrote to her parents, and they wrote back to her all the time, she said it was difficult to write everything that happened in one month in 25 words. Her father and mother would sign their letters, however one day she realised her mother's signature was forged by her father, because it looked different to the signatures on her other letters, which indicated something was wrong. Soon after, the letters from her father stopped too. Bob’s story was similar; he got on the kindertransport at 13 and never saw his family again, and he later found out they were killed at Auschwitz. In Britain he never really had a permanent home and was always moving from hostel to hostel as there simply wasn’t enough space or people to look after the children. It must have been very difficult for him, as no-one was that interested in caring for the refugees. He finished with reminding us about the power of words and how they can affect people. Learning about real people in the Holocaust was very emotional, and we found it hard to believe how the Jews were treated by the Nazis.
This trip taught us lots about the Holocaust. We learnt what life was really like for some of the Jews, some were lucky enough to escape, while others had to face extreme discrimination, and often death. We got first-hand information on what Kristallnacht was really like, and how it affected different families. The trip was a real eye-opener for us on what the Holocaust was really like in person. We got answers to questions that were very useful in our school work on the Holocaust too.