It was the day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
More than ever, we need to honour the survivors of these regimes of hatred and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.
We need to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it is a steady process which can begin if prejudice, discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We are very fortunate here in the UK; we are not at risk of genocide.
However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future. Therefore it is particularly appropriate that the theme for this major anniversary year focuses on memory.
In RE, Year 8 students have just finished the topic ‘Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times’. Students have been looking at the life stories of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times and who showed extraordinary courage and bravery, and, more importantly, students have been asking the question ‘what can we learn from their life experiences?’ Here is a selection of students’ reflections on their learning.
Head of Humanities
“When someone says the word holocaust, we immediately think of how Hitler murdered millions of innocent Jews in concentration camps during World War II. Although this is the name we have given that atrocity, the definition of the word is ‘the destruction or loss of life on a massive scale’. This leads to my question, have we really learnt from Hitler’s awful acts, or does discrimination such as this still occur today? There are in fact groups that, admittedly not on as big a scale, still commit the same type of crime. Extremists and terrorists kill in the most horrendous ways, but is there any difference between that and how the Jews were treated? From this I conclude that we must keep the memory of the holocaust alive to ensure that history does NOT repeat itself. We must not forget.”
“It is important to remind ourselves of this tragic event for many reasons. The one that I believe to be the most important, is to learn from their mistakes, we would not want a repeat in history. There are many memoirs of this time - such as Anne Frank, which we continue to constantly read as it reminds us of the fighting spirit in humans, bravery in some young individuals and how to have hope and belief that things will turn out right, even if you have to risk things for what you believe in.
People like Anne Frank are remarkably relevant today, as most people blame others for their mistakes and/or problems, and their courage and selflessness is deeply inspirational, to encourage others to do the right thing”.
“2015 is a year for great opportunities and happiness, but it is also a year to reflect on this horrendous period in time, the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, a concentration camp, where over 1.1 million people died.
Auschwitz was a horrendous place, but it is a place that should be remembered. We should remember that many innocent people were abused, starved and killed there. People got so hungry that they had to eat the dirt on the ground. They got so cold they would freeze. They got so tired they would collapse. This should never be a way of living.
Whatever religion or race you are people should be treated the same. Auschwitz was a horrible place, but we shouldn’t blame the building. We should blame the people. They were the ones that controlled what happened there.
We should learn about Auschwitz and what happened there, because we must learn from their mistakes. We must not be prejudice or just blame people because of their race or religion. Instead of just fighting and killing to get the answer, we should do it in a civilised manner instead.
Auschwitz was a place that should be remembered for the people that were killed there and how brave and strong they were in the face of extreme conditions”.