At Broadoak, we provide many opportunities for young people to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides throughout the world. We remember their victims and explore the relationship between the past and key issues that we face today, such as racism, bullying and discrimination.
Last year, to celebrate Holocaust Memorial Day the Humanities faculty ran a collapsed curriculum project. Year 9 students had a fortnight to take part in learning activities around the Holocaust and were then given four lessons to express themselves artistically. The theme this year was ‘How can life go on?’. Students explored real life stories of people whose lives were affected by the Holocaust and by more recent genocides. We were delighted with the pieces of work that students created. They responded in a mature and very thoughtful manner. Some students made models that were symbolic of the events during the Holocaust, others expressed themselves through poetry and some created moving pieces of art that expressed the emotions of those that suffered. We had many students who sometimes struggle with social and emotional behaviour who engaged with the project positively and took the opportunity to display their artistic talents.
The collapsed project was a fantastic lead up to the Humanities trip to Auschwitz. The project offered a fantastic chance to connect with the stories and events even further.
40 students from Year 9 and 10 were given the opportunity to visit Auschwitz in February. The project ensured that students had the historical knowledge surrounding the events of the Holocaust and that they were prepared emotionally for the trip. Whilst in Poland, we visited some incredible sites, and discovered that Krakow is a truly beautiful city with a rich and intricate history.
The fundamental element of our trip was to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. This was a very moving day, for both staff, and students as we discovered first-hand the conditions in the camps and learned in detail about the treatment of those who were taken to the concentration camps. Many students were shocked by the size of Birkenau.
We also visited the Galicia museum, where we looked at the progress of Jewish culture through time in a series of photographs. Whilst here, we were privileged to meet a survivor of the Holocaust, Monica Goldwasser, who told her story about how she was saved from the concentration camps.
Overall, the trip was incredibly rewarding for both students and staff.
As part of Holocaust remembrance last year the Holocaust Trust chose to promote the message ‘Don’t stand by’. To take part in this remembrance, the Humanities Faculty ran a poetry slam project for Year 9 students. Students were asked to explore either the Holocaust and other genocides, or to look at current issues of prejudice and discrimination in the 21st century. They had the opportunity of then expressing their own message of ‘Don’t stand by’ in the form of a poem. At the end of the project each student put their finished poem on the wall in the Humanities wing, which created a reflection wall. At the end of the project students were given the opportunity to read the poems on the reflection wall.
Sydni Parkes (10D) said, “We started the project thinking about the message ‘Don’t stand by’. This was linked to Holocaust Remembrance Day. Once we had reflected on the message, we each chose an issue we were interested in and did some research. I found the testimonies of Jewish survivors really interesting to read. We were then given the task to create a poem inspired by the message of ‘Don’t stand by’.
The project gave us the opportunity to learn more about the Holocaust and other genocides. But we could also explore contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination such as bullying, LGBT rights and racism. I think that it was a great topic as we were encouraged to express how we feel. It allowed us to see past experiences and current issues through other people’s eyes.”
We were also proud to be able to offer 180 Year 9 students the unique opportunity to hear testimony from Holocaust survivor, Joanna Millan, as part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).
The moving testimony was be followed by a question and answer session which enabled students to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth.
This was the third visit that the Humanities Faculty has organised. Organiser Mrs Hall said, “It is a privilege for us to welcome Joanna Millan to our school and her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Joanna’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”
Don’t stand by:
I thought it would be over for us,
With the world war been and gone,
But as I think about it now,
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Two people out of my family,
The only ones to survive,
And I was one of the lucky ones,
Because I came out alive.
The news was spread across the globe,
About Hitler’s rise to power,
All the thoughts spin round my head,
None of them sweet all sour.
I will never ever forget the sound,
The shrillness of a grown man’s cry,
The children running, their parents screaming,
The look of pure fear in their eyes.
We were proudly Jewish through and through,
The whole of my family and me,
My father said that pain would come,
But not how much pain there would be.
We were hauled out of our houses,
And sent straight to the camps,
Torn from everything we knew,
Called names like scum and tramps.
People looked at me like I was dirt on the ground,
Just a lump of dirt on their shoes,
The names they called me are too bad to say,
They yelled ‘You’re going to lose.’
As soon as we arrived we were split up,
Into groups of fit and lame,
My family were thrown out of my grasp,
I knew I would never be the same.
My mother and I were separated,
Because we were not good enough,
We were split from my father and brother,
From then the going got rough.
I never saw my father again,
I lost him on that day,
I think I saw my brother once more,
Before he was taken away.
After a few months of eating scraps,
And struggling to keep me alive,
My mother looked like life had left her,
I’m surprised she did survive.
But after the loss of my father and brother,
I knew she couldn’t cope,
But when she talked like she was saying goodbye,
I really began to lose hope.
I do not know how I managed,
How I managed to survive this long,
But when the day of the extraction came,
I knew there was something wrong.
And as I ran to the fence line,
Struggling to see the light,
My mother took her final breath,
She had given up her fight.
I could not believe she had left me,
I cried for five hours or so,
I could have cried for days on end,
Had I not been told to go.
I didn’t want to leave her,
To leave without anyone,
It took me a while to realise the fact,
The rest of my family were gone.
The anger raged right through me,
As I ran up to the train,
But before I could manage to clamber on,
It swiftly began to rain.
For me this felt like a blessing,
Because now I just felt free,
Now I didn’t have to stop crying,
Because the sky was crying with me.
One person out of my family,
The only one to survive,
And I am the unlucky one,
Because I am still alive.
Don’t be the one to stand there,
And watch us while they attack,
Because I have lost my family,
AND I CAN NEVER GO BACK…
By Alyx Carter (10B)