Schools remember the Holocaust



New Kings parent Kalim Mohammad
Kohistani, with his passport from his home country of Afghanistan
(left), and headteacher David Block, with a 1930s German passport (which
is stamped inside with a red J for Jew) which belonged to a friend of
his father's

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Holocaust Memorial Day

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Special assemblies, readings, displays and award
presentations have been taking place in schools as pupils and staff remember the millions of people killed or persecuted by the Nazis during the Holocaust, as well as the victims of other genocides.

This year's Holocaust Memorial Day theme of 'one person can make a difference' honours the rescuers who helped many to survive the concentration camps.

Among the schools marking the national day of remembrance today (Friday, 27 January) is New King's Primary School, in Fulham. Headteacher David Block spoke to pupils from his school and neighbouring Parayhouse School about the experiences of his father and mother who fled to the UK to escape persecution from the Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy. Mr Block's grandfather died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"My father came to England in 1933 from Germany
at the age of 11 to live with friends of the family in Edinburgh and did
not see his father again," said Mr Block. "My mother came to England in
1939 from Milan. Her aunt was Einstein's secretary and Einstein wrote to
the British government to recommend her father for a job as an
industrial chemist in England.
Many of our pupils or their parents have
experienced war and have come to this country as refugees, so I can
relate my family's experience to their own and the fact that we all have
a story to tell."

Guests at the special assembly at New Kings
Primary included London MEP Robert Evans and parent Kalim Mohammad
Kohistani, who has two sons at New Kings Primary and spoke about his
experience of fleeing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan with his family
in 2001.

Fulham Cross School will present awards for
moral courage, based on the example of teenage diarist Anne Frank and
her family. Students in each year group will receive a copy of Anne
Frank's diary and gift vouchers during special assemblies from 31
January to 2 February in recognition of acts of courage in standing up
to adversity or inspiring others. It is the second year the school has
presented the awards.

Brian Netto, deputy head at Fulham Cross School,
said: "We will be recognising the often unseen contributions of students
who have shown moral courage at school or in the community. They will be
chosen by heads of year and year group tutors."

Other schools remembering the Holocaust and
genocides around the world include Henry Compton School, in Fulham,
which has organised special assemblies on the theme of 'one person can
make a difference' as well as displays on individual case histories of
Holocaust survivors and victims; Normand Croft Community School in
Fulham, which is holding special assemblies focusing on Anne Frank this
week, and the London Oratory School, in Fulham, which hosted a visit by
Mary Blewitt of the Rwanda Survivors' Fund on 17 January.

Cllr Melanie Smallman, cabinet member for
education, said: "The persecution and massacres in Nazi Germany and
other countries around the world, including Rwanda, have a particular
resonance for schools in this borough, where many pupils have themselves
fled persecution or conflict abroad. Holocaust Memorial Day is an
excellent opportunity to make one of history's most shameful chapters
relevant to today's children and residents. It also promotes fairness,
tolerance and the idea that we can all make a difference to the way
others are treated."


January 29, 2006