Year 9 pupils listened to a Holocaust survivor and the Holocaust Educational Trust

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Year 9 form classes had the opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor this week with Freddy Berdach via Microsoft Teams. They all asked really thoughtful and mature questions to gain a better understanding of those events experienced. Please read the summary below about the HET event from Arub in 9 Bunker.

On Tuesday 30th March, Year 9 got the opportunity to talk to a Holocaust survivor, Freddy Berdach.  Not many people get this opportunity and we were delighted to have been given such a wonderful experience!  Freddy was born in 1930 to a lower middle-class family in Vienna, Austria.  In March 1938, after Germany had occupied Austria, soldiers came knocking on his family’s door telling them they had two weeks to leave the country.  There were huge restrictions for the Jewish community such as: they were not allowed to visit the cinema or theatre, sit on park benches or take trains.  A really upsetting thing I learnt was that Jewish people weren’t allowed to walk on pavements, only gutters.

Freddy and his parents took the train to Switzerland.  However, they were forced to move again as the Swiss authorities told them to leave the country within 24 hours otherwise they would have to return to Austria.  So Freddy and his mother moved to the UK as refugees and lived in a boarding house.  Whilst his mother worked in domestic service, Freddy was fostered into eight families; some were nice and some nasty. 

What shocked me the most was when he told us that, just because he could not speak any English, his foster families decided not to send him to school.  He missed three years of education.  However, he didn’t let that get to him and grew up to be a very smart and successful man.  He was married for 63 years and has three daughters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  He has done lots of charity work and raised £3 million to set up a home for the elderly.

This was such an important event as it’s crucial for us to find out what happened in the Holocaust from a person who was there and to keep their stories alive.  At the end of the talk, Year 9 were bursting with questions to ask Freddy which he answered in detail.

Something Freddy said that really stuck with me and I thought was beautiful was, “Forgive but never forget.  Hatred is self-destructive.  It’s better to forgive others, not necessarily because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”  It was touching that, despite the horrors Freddy went through, he still forgave those who mistreated him.  I absolutely loved the meeting and I hope everyone else did too! 

Arub Khan, 9 Bunker