Pupils 'Stand Together' in bid to raise Holocaust awareness

PUBLISHED: 08:30 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 11 February 2020

St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

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This is the story of a day set aside to remember and reflect on the dreadful events of the Nazi Holocaust - with an input from children of death camps prisoners.

The Holocaust Memorial Day was marked in Saffron Walden through a reflection on antisemitism, with year six pupils and County High students being joined by members of the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Cambridge.

The event took place at St Mary's Church at the end of last month. It discussed not only the Holocaust, but also subsequent genocides in the world, in Cambodia, Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar.

Reverend Tim Hardingham, a physics teacher at the County High School, said: "We worked with all the primary schools in the town and surrounding villages, teaching the year six classes about the Nazi holocaust and subsequent ones, and introducing them to the story of Laco and Agi."

The students asked Julia and Miriam Sherwood questions about the ongoing persecution of their family. As the daughter and, respectively, the granddaughter of Laco and Agi Kalina, Jews born in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War, Julia and Miriam shared the story of the suffering Jews experienced in Europe long after the war.

Laco and Agi survived imprisonment in death camps during the war, and Laco became a successful journalist and producer of political theatre in Czechoslovakia. Despite being well-known, he was repeatedly persecuted because of his Jew origins. Agi and him were arrested and imprisoned by the Soviet Communist regime in 1971, and Julia, then 15, was left on her own. The whole family managed to escape to Germany in 1978 despite previously having their passports taken away.

The theme for this year's Holocaust Day is Stand Together. It explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours and speaking out against oppression. More information is available at www.hmd.org.uk.

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