The South Wolverhamtpon & Bilston Academy

On Friday 1st December we welcomed Ernest Simon (a Holocaust survivor) to deliver a talk to our year 9 students. This was an extension of the work they have been carrying out in RE this term (“How has the holocaust affected people of the Jewish faith?”)

Ernest Simon was just 8 years old when he was separated from his parents and brother in Austria and put on the kinder transport (child transport) to England as a means of escaping the decimation of Jewish people in his country by the Nazi’s. Ernest discussed how he thought it was the bravest thing his parents did for him and often ponders on whether he could have ever done the same to his children if ever he was in such a circumstance. He informed us of how his life altered somewhat when the Nazi’s invaded and how he suddenly could not attend school or go the cinema and that all Jewish people in his area were forced to close their business and could not go to work. His final memory of Austria was during Kristalnacht (the night of broken glass) when he witnessed the Nazi soldiers burn the synagogue in his street to the ground. His exact words were “it was like a huge bonfire in the middle of the street” and that was a result of the Torah Scrolls (the Jewish holy scriptures) being burnt in front of their eyes.

Following his testimony, we had time for a question and answer session and Ernest said he has never been asked such thought provoking questions by a group of young students which makes us as an academy extremely proud of our students and the hard work they put into researching and preparing suitable questions prior to his visit.

Ernest left us with some powerful messages of how he hopes his story will encourage people to never judge others and to help people, including refugees today, like he was helped back in 1938. He tells his story in the hope that we can take responsibility to educate others in the hope that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Since the visit our students have been working hard in RE and reflecting on his testimony. Many of our students have said how they will know be more grateful of the things that they have and feel like they can confidently educate others into what has happened.

We are immensely proud of our students at Ormiston SWB academy regarding their conduct during the talk and their enthusiasm when asking questions afterwards. We hope that this is an experience that they will never forget and understand that we are privileged as an academy to have had first hand knowledge of what happened.

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