Schoolchildren hear first hand account from Holocaust survivor

Seaham High School students with Ruth Barnett, who visited the school to talk about her life experiences.
Seaham High School students with Ruth Barnett, who visited the school to talk about her life experiences.

A German woman who survived the Holocaust has been sharing her life story with schoolchildren.

Ruth Barnett visited Seaham High School to talk to Year 8 students as part of an event organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Ruth also took part in a question and answer session designed to help students better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth.

Headteacher David Shield said: “It was a privilege to welcome Ruth to our school.

"Her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced.

"We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Ruth’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the

Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

Ruth came to England in 1939 at the age of four on the Kindertransport, an organised rescue effort that saw nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children placed in British foster

homes, hostels and schools.

Over the next 10 years, Ruth and her brother lived with three foster families and in a hostel. Her father, who was Jewish, escaped to Shanghai while her mother, who was not

Jewish, remained in Germany but was forced into hiding after taking part in the Rosenstrasse protest in central Berlin.

In 1949, Ruth was repatriated to Germany against her will after her father filed a court order.

She returned to England within a year and visited her parents during school holidays.

After leaving university, Ruth went on to become a teacher and a psychotherapist.

She also converted to Judaism in order to marry her Jewish boyfriend and in 2008 they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Karen Pollack MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Ruth’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and be hearing her

testimony, students have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”