Holocaust Memorial Day - Sunday 27th January 2019

This morning the whole school gathered together for an assembly to mark Holocaust Memorial Day which is on Sunday 27th January.

Every year this assembly is taken by our two Holocaust Ambassadors, who this year are Zakiyyah and Rosie, students in Year 13, who visited Auschwitz last year. As student ambassadors they are tasked to teach their school community ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ and over the last year Zakiyyah and Rosie have been doing this. This morning they spoke to the school movingly and knowledgeably about their visit and the lessons they learnt. In a short extract from the assembly, they said: ‘It’s so easy for every one of us to use phrases such as “it’s freezing” or “I’m starving”, but do we ever stop to consider what this actually means? For us, our visit to Auschwitz put this into perspective. We thought we knew what cold feels like as we stood in Auschwitz wrapped up in multiple layers, enduring the Polish winter in which our face and fingers went numb and our legs were shaking. But we don’t and nor does any single person in this room. Cold is enduring unbelievably freezing temperatures wearing nothing but thin striped pyjamas. We think fear is worrying about exam results and grades, but fear is not knowing if you’ll live for another day, an hour or minute. We think hunger is missing a meal or maybe even two in a day. But hunger is surviving on almost nothing for weeks on end, until all you can see is bones.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year is ‘Torn From Home’ and I spoke a little on this theme this morning. Our displays in the Library and the Vestibule explain in more detail the ideas we have been encouraged to reflect upon this year.  For the next few weeks our Word of the Week and Thought of the Week will focus on such thoughts. I hope all students will take time to think and discuss what this means in our school and in the community around us. In March we shall be welcoming a Holocaust Survivor to our school who will speak to us about her experiences of being torn from her home in the late 1930s.

Ms Christine Kattirtzi