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Students reflect on history's lessons at Holocaust Centre

 Year 8 and 9 students have been reflecting on an absorbing trip to the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Newark.

We started off the day by having a talk about what happened running up to and during the Holocaust. We were asked to consider the question: “Did anyone have a choice?”

We had to consider whether the Jews had a choice about being in the Ghettos; whether the Polish public had a choice about looking away from the Jews as portrayed in a photograph; and whether the Wehrmacht’s soldiers had a choice about being in the military or if they were forced to join.

We started off in the temporary Kwibuka 20 museum which was remembering 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda where one million members of  the Tutsi tribe were killed in just 100 days by their rivals from the Hutu tribe.

We looked around the main museum and saw several interesting exhibits, including a model of one of the concentration camps. We then looked around the gardens which included several memorials. We all put a stone on the pile for one of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. 

Click here to see a gallery of photos from our visit

 Then we were gathered inside for lunch and for a talk from Ruth Barnett, one of the survivors of the Holocaust. Ruth came to England from Germany in 1939 on the ‘Kindertransport’ service and, after spending the war in England, she returned to Germany in the late 1940s.

She ended up going to university in England and marrying a man she met there.

We then had another talk which offered answers to the earlier question of choice. Our view was that none of them really had a choice, other than to do as they were told or be killed.

Throughout the day, we learnt a lot about the concentration camps and what life was like inside them. Personally, I also learnt about the Rwandan genocide which I had never heard about before.

Matthew Wilson
Year 9

    The Priory Federation of Academies, Lincoln