Tuesday 27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day and 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. It was heartening to see so much media coverage of the commemorative events which took place both here and in Europe. David Cameron announced that there will be a National Memorial to remember the Holocaust and a Holocaust Learning Centre in London.
At Manchester Jewish Museum we have been teaching about the Holocaust for many years. Our Learning Officer recently developed a new workshop session for pupils in secondary schools. The session is based on the stories of four Holocaust survivors who settled in Manchester after the war.
We decided to launch the new session on Holocaust Memorial Day itself and were very pleased to have pupils from different faiths with us for the session. Twenty pupils came from King David High School and ten came from Abraham Moss Community School.
During the workshop pupils find out about the different stories of survival of Chaim Ferster, Peter Kurer, Gina Bauer and Helen Taichner. They work together in groups completing activities based on resources relating to each individual. They could be listening to a survivor interview on an ipad, unpacking an old suitcase filled with family photos, reading an old diary or discussing the responsibility of ordinary Austrian people for the fate of one of the survivors. During this particular session pupils were privileged to be able to talk to the daughter of Helen Taichner.
Within no time pupils from both schools were getting to know each other as they got involved with the activities. All the pupils approached the workshop with a positive attitude, determined to get as much out of the session as they could. There were plenty of staff and volunteers from the schools and the museum around to help them, whenever they needed some extra input.
At the end of the session to mark Holocaust Memorial Day we invited one pupil from each school to light together a commemorative candle provided by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. A museum volunteer read out the Kaddish prayer in memory of all those who perished during the Holocaust.
Everyone involved was very satisfied with how the launch had gone. We will probably tweak and polish the session a little here and there. Schools who want to make a booking for the workshop can do so on http://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/ks-34