Year 8 Trip to the Jewish Museum: Never Again Auschwitz

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Year 8 student Precious shares what she learnt at the Jewish Museum during a recent visit...

On Friday 17 of January, Year 8 visited the Jewish Museum, in London. It is a place for people of all faiths to learn about Jewish history and culture. We went there in order to learn more about the Holocaust and how it affected Jewish families.

The Holocaust (also known as the Shoah), was a mass genocide of European Jews. Between 1933 to 1945, across German-dominated countries in Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered 6 million people.

During the trip, we were able to look and feel two items from the time of the Holocaust which highlighted how outcast the Jewish families were. The two items were a yellow star badge and a passport.

Yellow Star Badge
Jewish people had to wear the yellow star badge (except those 6 and under- as told in survivor Henry’s story) in order to be identified. The badge was a yellow star of David with the word ‘Jude’ in the centre meaning ‘Jew’ in German and was written in a Hebrew font- the font used in scriptures from the Torah- to mock the Jewish community.

Yellow star of David with the word 'Jude' written in the middle

We were shown old passport which was used during the holocaust to identify nationality. The passport was stamped with a ‘J’ to show that the passport holder was Jewish. In all Jewish passports, they would be named Israel if they were male, and Sara if they were female.

Photo of an old passport from World War 2 of a young girl, the passport has been stamped with the letter J

Both of these items represent the loss of identity Jewish people experienced during the Holocaust and how it highly affected them.

As part of the trip, we heard survival stories Leon Greenman OBE via video and first-hand from Henry Obswolt, who had come into the museum to talk to us.

Black and white photograph of Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman, behind Leon is barbed wire fencing

Leon was a father and husband living in the Netherlands at the time of the Holocaust. He was unable to prove his and his family’s British identity and was sent, firstly to a deportation camp and then to Auschwitz- Birkenau, where his wife and son were murdered. In the picture, you can notice a number on his arm. Prisoners at Auschwitz received an identification number which was then tattooed onto their forearm. Also, it would dehumanise the prisoners to the guards as they would view them as a number, rather than a person.

After surviving many concentration and labour camps, Leon promised to tell his story to the outside world - which is what he did until his death in March 2008. The Jewish Museum is continuing Leon’s mission; telling his story in the Holocaust Gallery.

Our speaker on the day, Henry, told us that he was just a child in the Holocaust - by the time the Holocaust ended, he was only six years old. Henry’s parents hid in the attic of a school (with permission from the head), this was risky of his parents as they had to keep quiet in case any of the other staff or pupils at the school found out about their hiding place. Henry was sent to live with two kind foster parents, who disguised him so that he would not be identified as Jewish.

Overall the trip was fascinating and I learnt many things from this experience. I highly recommend a visit to the Jewish Museum.

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