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Humbling stories of Holocaust survivor enthral Worcester schoolchildren
9:16am Thursday 10th April 2014 in News
SCHOOLCHILDREN found a visit from a Holocaust survivor "humbling" after hearing about his wartime experiences.
Rudi Oppenheimer, aged 82, visited Nunnery Wood High School to talk about the hardships he suffered at the hands of Nazis in the notorious German camp Bergen-Belsen.
Mr Oppenheimer was sent to the camp at the age of 12 along with his parents, brother Paul and sister Eve after spending seven months in the transit camp of Westerbork in Holland.
As Eve had been born in Britain during his family's brief stay in the country and was registered as a British subject, the Oppenheimers were considered to be exchange Jews - people who might potentially be exchanged for Germans captured by the Allies.
This meant they escaped some of the hardships suffered by other prisoners but their living conditions were still very poor and in January 1945 Mr Oppenheimer's mother died, and his father died two months later.
The children were on the last train to leave Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 and later travelled to Britain.
Mr Oppenheimer talked to year 8 pupils at the Spetchley Road school on Thursday, April 3 before taking part in a question and answer session about the Holocaust.
Mr Oppenheimer, now retired, regularly speaks at schools and universities often to children who were the same age as him when he was liberated.
He said: "I think they are very interested in it.
"Most of them ask lots of questions at the end about everything really.
"I tell them about my life from birth until I was their age in 1945."
The event's organiser Victoria Jenkins, who teaches ethics and philosophy at the school, said: "It's living history.
"They are learning about homicide.
"It's a really humbling experience and something they remember for the rest of their lives."
The visit was arranged through the Holocaust Educational Trust as part of its Outreach programme to schools across the UK.
Karen Pollock, the trust's chief executive, said: "Rudi’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing his testimony, students will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.
“At the Trust, we impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”
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