HUNDREDS of Sunderland schoolchildren were given an emotive history lesson as they heard the first-hand experiences of a Holocaust survivor.
Thornhill School and Business Enterprise College hosted a visit from Zigi Shipper, who spoke about his time in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where he was sent as a 14-year-old.
The 84-year-old believes he was lucky to have made it out of the camp alive, and sees it as his responsibility to those who lost their lives to talk about what happened.
He spoke to about 300 students from Years 7, 9 and 10, along with community representatives, children from Hudson Primary, one of Thornhill’s partner schools, and Washington School.
The school also invited two Jewish families and people of different faiths from Sunderland to sit in on the talk, which was followed by a question and answer session.
Assistant headteacher Julie Richardson, said: “His message to the young people was there mustn’t be any hate and how lucky they are. He also talked about how they should work hard in school and he had the audience mesmerised.
As a school, Thornhill strives to challenge all aspects of prejudice and discriminationJulie Richardson, assistant headteacher of Thornhill School
“He had a really interesting and positive story. He talked about how different it was for people from the Holocaust and how important it was to learn from the Holocaust.
“As a school, Thornhill strives to challenge all aspects of prejudice and discrimination and we were extremely honoured to have Mr Shipper as a guest to help promote the upkeep of British values, such as tolerance and respect for others within the school community.”
The visit by Mr Shipper, who is originally from Lodz in Poland and now lives in Hertfordshire, was organised by former pupil Peter Bull.
The 50-year-old is now in charge of teaching RE at a school in Liverpool and met Mr Shipper through studies his school has carried out on the Holocaust. Mr Shipper, who also worked in a series of labour camps after he was seized by the Nazis, carries out his visits as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s outreach project.
He was liberated from his German captors by the British Army in May 1945, and went on to recuperate in a children’s home in Germany, before moving to London to be reunited with his mother.