Pupils from Monega Primary School were invited to attend Stratford Town Hall on the 27th January 2015 – 70 years on to remember all the millions (11m) of people who died in the Holocaust. Five pupils from Year 6 were chosen to represent the school at this event.
We had to be at Stratford Town Hall by 9.15am…
We were shown into the main hall which was huge with spectacular chandeliers and packed with people.
They were guest speakers and pupils from other schools participating.
It started with ECaM Musicians and a choir singing ‘Remember Me’. Then the Mayor of Newham - ‘Sir Robin Wales’ - spoke about how important it was to remember this special day and to also celebrate all the different cultures that make up Newham. He then introduced ‘Rudi Oppenheimer’ who was a survivor of the Holocaust.
Rudi Oppenheimer told us all about his family and life during the Second World War. He expressed his feelings about what happened to him during this time and showed us lots of pictures from his childhood of his family. Before and during the war he moved many times – from Germany to London, England to live with his Uncle Rudi.
Some months later when his sister was born they went to live in the Netherlands.
They then went back to Berlin but were forced to go to Amsterdam because his family were Jewish and all Jews were sent to live there.
They were strict rules for Jews such as:
Eventually all his family were sent to a ‘Concentration Camp’ where his parents later died of typhoid.
Just days before the British freed the prisoners at Bergen Belsen camp, Rudi and his brother, Paul and his sister, Eve were put on another train. They had to eat grass to survive.
Some days later having survived being shot at by American planes, the German soldiers guarding them suddenly disappeared. They were rescued by the British and their Uncle Rudi obtained visas to allow them all to live in England. Rudi lived a very happy life in England. He went on to work for a very big oil company and he has travelled the world.
Today, at 83 years old, he gives talks to schools both here and in Germany to inform people of the Holocaust.
We thought it was unbelievable how he survived when he had so little to eat so that he was just skin and bones. He believes he survived because he stole potato peelings and shared these with his brother.
He is a remarkable man and we learnt a lot about life for a Jew enduring the Holocaust.
The Year 6 History Hunters