Remembering Victims of the Holocaust

January 2018

Remembering Victims of the Holocaust

A section of the quilt formed by individually created panels. Each square is unique to pay tribute to the victims.

On January 26th our Religious Studies students visited Durham Cathedral to take part in a special memorial event to honour those killed by Nazis in the Second World War.

The Cathedral hosted an exhibition which explored the persecution of the Jewish and Romani Holocaust, and later genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Darfur. As an additional tribute, buildings and businesses around Durham City turned purple as a way to show their respect for the victims of the Holocaust.

The annual Holocaust Memorial Day gives student representatives from schools across the county the opportunity to learn about the tragedies through a series of workshops and talks. Over 250 pupils attended the 2018 event, including our own Year 9s, accompanied by Mrs Cross.

Students learned about the horrors that filled the lives of so many people and heard first-hand about the experience of Ruth Barnett, who was born in Germany in1935. Ruth was one of the many children who were brought to the UK on the Kindertransport, the British rescue effort that transported thousands of Jewish refugees to safety. They also had the opportunity to learn about the often unknown stories of the Nazi persecution of Gypsy and Roma communities.

In a thought-provoking workshop, the group helped to create fabric panels, which will be stitched into a quilt for the '70273 Project'. Each square contains a red cross to represent the life of a person murdered by the Nazis for having a disability. At the beginning of the war forms were issued to families of people with a range of physical disabilities and conditions such as autism or Down's syndrome. Families believed this would lead to exemption from war duties or more lenient treatment, however forms were assessed by three doctors and if two added a red mark, therefore forming a red cross, these people were effectively given a death sentence. Thousands of adults and children were murdered as a result.

Attending the event was particularly important to Niko K, one of our Year 9 students, who wanted to pay particular tribute to his Great Grandfather, Colonel Wladyslaw Stan. As a Colonel in the Polish Air Force he was awarded the Cross of Valour for his actions during World War II; this is equivalent to the British Victoria Cross. As an additional mark of respect and with the special permission of the organisers, Niko attended the Memorial event in his Air Cadet uniform.

Holocaust Memorial Day is designed to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was the largest Nazi Concentration Camp in Europe. As part of the event, there was also a display from the Durham Light Infantry, which explained their involvement in the eventual liberation of Bergen-Belson death camp; this included testimonies from both the liberators and the prisoners. Members of the public also visited St Nicholas Church in Durham Market Place to light a candle in memory of the victims.

Written by Year 13 student, Megann G

King James I Academy, South Church Road, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 7JZ