The Holocaust Memorial

J Coley and J Donoghue – Head Students

27th January marks the day that Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated in 1945. On this day, annually, we as a community come together to learn about those who fell victim to the Nazi persecution and take action to create a safer future, preventing mass genocide.

Why is it important?

Remembering, discussing and learning about the Holocaust is important to raise awareness about contemporary forms of antisemitism, xenophobia and hatred. It mirrors the danger of prejudice and extremist movements, whilst helping to promote human rights. Being able to tackle this can help to build societies more resilient to varying forms of extremism.

What happened during the holocaust?

Many of us know the history of the Holocaust, where approximately 6 million Jews and at least 5 million prisoners of war, Romany, Jehovah’s Witness, homosexuals and many other victims were persecuted. However, to deepen our understanding it is important to look at stories of individuals who survived this genocide.

David Bayer was Born on September 7th, 1922, in Kozienice Poland. David was part of the Manes family, who owned a successful shoe factory in Poland. On September 9th the Nazis captured Poland, but David and his family hid in forests, where they successfully avoided them. When the family returned, they found their possessions were destroyed, including their Passover dishes (which is a Jewish festival that celebrates the liberation of slaves in Egypt). Furthermore, when the Nazis seized Polish Jewish businesses, David was forced into the Kozienice ghetto, where he worked as a houseboy and a translator for gestapo policy in 1942.  After this he was then sent to the Treblinka Killing Centre, where the rest of his family were killed – however David was smuggled back to Kozienice to clean up the rest of Ghetto. He was then sent to one of the largest concentration camps (with a death toll of an estimated 1.1 million), Auschwitz Birkenau, to work in the highly dangerous Jaworzno Coal mines. In January 1945, he escaped into a forest near the sub camp of Blechhammer, and was found by Soviet Soldiers, weighing just 70lbs at the age of 23.

This is one of few examples of people who survived during the Holocaust and emphasises the extreme persecutions that these groups were subjected to. To find out more information regarding the Holocaust Memorial Day, click the links below:

https://www.ushmm.org/remember/holocaust-survivors/volunteers/david-bayer

https://www.hmd.org.uk/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/z49mrj6

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