News for Religious and Moral Education
Each year for the past four years, the Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project has had two participants from Grove Academy’s sixth year. The LFA project is an initiative set up in 1999 to help “increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust for young people and to clearly highlight what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.”
Each year, hundreds of young people across the country are flown to the former Nazi concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as attending two half-day educational seminars. Once the main project is over, these young people become student ambassadors, challenged with the task of spreading the messages they have taken from their experiences around their local communities.
This year, Beth Sommerville and I were selected as Grove Academy’s participants for visiting Auschwitz on the 4th October 2012. Since then we’ve spoken about our experiences to Monifieth Woman’s Group, held assemblies in support of Holocaust Memorial Day and created a series of five short films to compliment educational assemblies, helping to promote ending prejudice and discrimination throughout our school community and beyond.
However, last Monday 18th February 2013, after weeks of planning, Grove Academy held its first Holocaust Memorial Event; an event which saw the collaborative efforts of the past four sets of ambassadors and the moving testimony of Holocaust survivor, Zigi Shipper.
You could hear a pin drop in the room due to the 200 audience members (which included Dundee’s Lord Provost, Bob Duncan, Director of Education, Michael Wood and other representatives from Dundee City Council and the wider community) captivated silence. We all listened intently to the words of Kirsty Brown & Ruth Strachan (2009), Frances Holligan & Matthew Pandrich (2010), Iona Broadhurst & Faith Bulle (2011), Beth Sommerville & I (2012) and of course, Zigi’s moving testimony.
Each of the ambassadors shared some of the work they had done as part of their LFA projects and reflected upon their experiences from where they are now, including one of our films. We also had two recorded performances illustrating parts of the Holocaust from the Drama department, leading up to Zigi’s speech.
Beth & I had previously heard Zigi as part of our LFA experience however, we were both extremely emotional as he postponed his normal prepared testimony to personally thank all the ambassadors for the work they were doing to help fight against prejudice and discrimination.
He told us that he had never experienced such a personally emotional response to the work of HET Ambassadors. He felt that the effort and passion he had just witnessed from the young people at Grove Academy really reminded him, of why he has spent so much time over many years sharing his personal experiences of the Holocaust with others.
Zigi lived through the horrific conditions in the Łódź ghetto from 1940 until 1944 when the ghetto was liquidated and he was transported in cattle trucks to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was stripped, shaved and showered. He was later transported two weeks later to the Danzig concentration camp and eventually sent on a ‘death march’ to the German naval port of Neustadt with typhus and amazingly survived the illness after being liberated by the British army on the 3rd of May 1945.
His inspiring words had the entire room captivated. His final message to us all was “Whatever you do; you must not hate. You shouldn’t hate because hatred will do nothing for you. If anything you will be the one that will suffer.”
Connor Finlayson, S6