Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust survivor Ernest Simon

As part of commemorations for Holocaust Memorial Day, Wilmington Academy hosted a unique opportunity for students to come face to face with one of the darkest times in human history. Working with the Holocaust Educational Trust, Post 16 students took part in a workshop that looked deeper into the moral and ethical dilemmas that ordinary people faced at that time and to imagine what they may have done if faced with the same situation and choices.

Karen from the HEC said, “The Holocaust was a defining event in human history, the first time a state and its collaborators attempted to murder an entire people. During the Second World War, approximately six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered.

As time passes and the Holocaust begins to move from memory to history, it is more important now than ever to raise awareness and understanding in schools and to educate young people so that this period of history will not be forgotten.

It was a pleasure to visit Wilmington Academy and to deliver workshops to the Year 12 and 13 students as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach Programme. Many of the students were accessing this aspect of history for the first time and they showed great maturity in exploring these issues, providing thoughtful responses and asking insightful questions.”

During the afternoon we were extremely privileged to welcome Holocaust survivor Ernest Simon, who was born in Austria in 1930 and was only 8 years old when his country was annexed by Nazi Germany. As a young boy Ernest had witnessed the destruction of Jewish property and mosques during Kristallnacht, and the persecution of his family and friends. At the age of 9, Ernest was lucky to be one of 7000 children transported to England to escape from Nazi Germany, leaving his family and younger brother behind. Fortunately, his family were able to secure visa’s several months later and they joined him in settling in the north of England. Many of his mother’s family were not so lucky and lost their lives at Auschwitz. Ernest now lives with his wife in London.

Post 16 students, Year 9 and 10 History students, as well as members of staff were moved by Ernest’s story and listened intently to hear and gain insight from his first hand account. Ernest was extremely complimentary about the school and said, “the students were very attentive and I thought that the questions were very good”.

Joe, a year 12 History student, said, “The experience was incredible for me as, being a history student, I found it very insightful and helpful to gain a more solid understanding of the Holocaust through speaking to someone who was actually affected by it. Being able to ask a question to the survivor was something which I did not think I would have the opportunity to do and am very appreciative of.”

Elise, added, “As a Geography student for GCSE I had little understanding on the Holocaust, so when Ernest was talking about his experiences during the holocaust it really hit home that this was something very fairly recent that still affects families to this day. I enjoyed listening to his talk; I found it so interesting and informative.”