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Holocaust Memorial Day Marked at Salford City College

01 February 2012

Events held at Walkden & Pendleton Sixth Form Centres to mark moment in history.

It has been sixty-seven years since the end of WWII was declared, though the devastation caused by the Nazi Regime is still a vivid memory for many. Staff and students at Salford City College last week hosted events at the Walkden and Pendleton Sixth Form Centres to mark Holocaust Memorial Day which falls annually on 24th January.

The week long events included a five-day ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ Pledge Signing, where students pledged to commit to challenging the language of hatred; a free film showing of Mark Herman’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which documents the friendship between a young Jewish prisoner and the son of a German Concentration Camp Commandant; and also a memorial service hosted by Salford City College Chaplain Maralyn Endlar.

However, the highlight of the weeks’ activities was a talk by Holocaust survivor Helen Stein. 60 pupils from St Ambrose Barlow High School were invited to join the audience of college students and tutors at Pendleton Sixth Form Centre to hear Helen’s story about how she eluded the trip to Auschwitz with the help of a courageous resistance member named Marianne and local Mayor, Monsieur Dafoe.

Helen explained how she felt as though she had been “robbed of my childhood”, after spending numerous years under close German supervision in what she described as “prison”; being interrogated by the German Gestapo and failing to keep up the pretence that she was not, indeed, a Jewish citizen. She spoke of the admiration she felt for Monsieur Dafoe when discovering he had threatened Nazi soldiers to save the Jewish children from being shot, and the devastation she experienced when she found out that Marianne had been brutally murdered. After the war, Helen was re-united with her parents and returned to live in her home town of Strasberg. She later immigrated to the United Kingdom and has happily resided in Prestwich, Salford for over 50 years.

Gabrielle Lagan, Deputy Principal of Salford City College, was inspired by Helen’s story “I’d like to thank Helen for taking the time to speak about her experiences of the Holocaust; she is such a strong, inspirational lady. I think the students realised how lucky they are now in comparison to what things were like back then; I’m sure they will remember Helen’s story for a long time to come. It’s difficult to comprehend how strong these people were and how much animosity they faced purely due to their religion; Helen is exceptionally brave and I am very glad she came to share her story with us.”

The Holocaust Memorial Charity views Holocaust Memorial Day as an opportunity to reflect and learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur, and apply them to present day events and attitudes; challenging hatred and persecution in the UK today.

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