Sunderland children join together to remember Holocaust victims

Concentration camp survivor Zdenka Fantloa
Concentration camp survivor Zdenka Fantloa
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SCHOOL pupils are to join together to remember those who perished in the Holocaust.

Pupils from St Aidan’s, St Anthony’s and St Robert of Newminster will commemorate the genocide tonight ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday.

Organised by the Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, the evening aims to highlight the theme of this year’s event, which is Communities Together: Build a Bridge.

Father Chris Jackson is helping to organise the event.

“The evening is being held ahead of Sunday to raise awareness among the Catholic community, but also to include the North East Jewish community,” he said.

“A series of reflections will be read by the pupils to remind us about the tragedies of the Holocaust and other genocides which have happened in our time, such as in Rwanda and the Darfur conflicts.

“We will aim to remember that we must not let people perish because they are different, and we will look to ways we can build bridges in our community, not judge people, but honour and respect those differences.”

Guest speaker at the evening will be Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova, who was incarcerated in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Zdenka, 90, originally from the Czech Republic, has recently released her autobiography, The Tin Ring.

She will speak at the end of the evening.

St Aidan’s pupils will commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day ahead of a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in March.

The former death camp, now a museum, is just outside of the Polish city of Krakow.

Originally only the brick buildings of camp one, Auschwitz, stood, but the camp was extended to include camp two, Birkenau.

Anna Armstrong, RE teacher at the boys’ school, said: “The trip is for 22 GCSE students and will take place from March 8 to 11.

“They will take the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau and experience the impact that the Holocaust had on the people who had suffered as a result of religious persecution.

“The students will also visit the Schindler’s factory museum, also in Krakow.”

Oscar Schindler was made famous in the film Schindler’s List. The factory owner helped to save the lives of hundreds of Jews in the war by employing them and giving them a blue work permit, which showed they were essential to the war effort in Poland.

Mrs Armstrong said that after the visit the students would be encouraged to take part in future preparations of the annual Holocaust Day in school and share their experiences with their peers.

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull