Pupils get lesson from Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova (2nd left) meeting pupils at  at the Holocaust Memorial day 2013 Remembrance Evening St. Aidens Catholic School, Sunderland on Wednesday night. These pupils are among a group from the school who are travelling to Auschwitz, l-r Charlie O'Hagen, Rhys Patterson, Alex Moore, Christopher Byers and Liam Moir.
Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova (2nd left) meeting pupils at at the Holocaust Memorial day 2013 Remembrance Evening St. Aidens Catholic School, Sunderland on Wednesday night. These pupils are among a group from the school who are travelling to Auschwitz, l-r Charlie O'Hagen, Rhys Patterson, Alex Moore, Christopher Byers and Liam Moir.
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SCHOOL children have been given the lesson of a lifetime.

Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova was at St Aidan’s school as part of a Holocaust Memorial Day event.

Zdenka, originally from the Czech Republic who now lives in London, spoke to pupils from St Anthony’s, St Aidan’s and St Robert of Newminster schools.

The event was organised by the Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle’s department for inter-religious relations.

The 90-year-old, whose autobiography The Tin Ring, talks about her time in death camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, said: “It is a great honour to be here talking to you. There aren’t many of us left, living witnesses.

“When the war started I was 17, my life was happy.

“When I look back over the 72 years since then to what happened it seems impossible that the Holocaust could have happened in the 20th century.

“When I look back, it looks to me like an enormous tsunami swept over Europe.”

Zdenka took time to meet pupils from St Aidan’s who will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau in March. She also lit a memorial candle along with Sonia Slater, a member of Sunderland’s Jewish Community, and Deanna Van Der Velde from the Gosforth Synagogue.

Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Iain Kay said: “I think it is a privilege for the community that at the time of Holocaust Memorial day we have one of the few survivors with us to talk about her experiences in such a moving and personal way.

“The evening has been a huge success and the fact that the room was full shows that here in Sunderland this is an event that we see as being important and significant.”