CHILDREN of Callington Primary School welcomed a survivor of the Nazi persecution of the Jews to their class. The 44 Year 6 pupils spent a day with Ruth Barnett, who told them of her family's experiences in Nazi Germany, and of her determination in later years to fight for the rights of minorities here in the UK. Ruth was born in 1935 in Berlin. When she was just four years old, Ruth and her seven-year-old brother arrived in England on the Kindertransport – this was a rescue mission organised in the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, during which thousands of predominantly Jewish children were evacuated from Germany by train and boat and hosted by families in Britain. Over the next 10 years, the siblings were to live with three foster families and also spent time living in a hostel. Ruth's Jewish father had escaped to Japan and her non-Jewish mother had gone into hiding, having taken part in a protest to demand the release of Jewish men from prisons and concentration camps. After the war, Ruth returned to Germany and her family, but chose to come back to Britain, where she married, raised a family and worked as a teacher and psychotherapist. One of the harrowing experiences described to pupils was of how Ruth's family had actually taken part in an anti-Jewish demonstration on Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) on November 9, 1938. They believed it was the only thing they could do to conceal themselves from the paramilitary soldiers, who were intent on rounding up every Jew they could find as they ransacked homes, businesses and places of worship. After hearing Ruth's story, pupils had the chance to ask questions. 'Hearing that firsthand experience brings history alive,' said Year 6 teacher Hayley Young. 'With Ruth, the children made candles of remembrance for Holocaust victims. They wrote pledges to say how they would try to treat others. 'It was a privilege for us to welcome Ruth to our school.' The visit was part of the Holocaust Educational Trust's extensive outreach programme, which is available to schools across the UK. The trust believes that there is no better way to educate people about the Holocaust than through the testimony of a survivor. 'Ruth's story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances,' said a spokesperson for the trust. 'By hearing her testimony, students have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.'
School pupils learn from survivor of Nazi terror
Thursday 1st May 2014 10:00 pm