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Eye witness testimony from Holocaust survivors is the most powerful tool in raising awareness of the dangers of prejudice and racism. London Jewish Cultural Centre’s survivor speakers’ programme enables thousands of school children each year to hear and learn from these compelling stories of human endurance and man’s capacity to ill-treat his fellow man.
“Students were unanimous in the verdict that this was the most important historical experience they had ever had.” Vandean School, Kent
“Without the visit the Holocaust would just seem like another history topic. It gave a reality to the subject which it is impossible to convey through textbooks.” La Sainte Union School, London
“Your story touched me in so many ways that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.” Arnita Manandhar, Year 11, Preston Manor High School
In 1994 Holocaust studies became a compulsory part of the school curriculum. This led the Holocaust and Anti-Racism Department of the London Jewish Cultural Centre to formalise its visiting speaker programme, formerly run on an ad hoc basis. Over the past 17 years the programme has gone from strength to strength, reaching out to schools throughout the country. In 2008/9 alone, Holocaust survivors gave direct testimony to over 15,000 students.
Some 60 Holocaust survivors, not all of whom are Jewish, act as school speakers for us. They have endured a range of Holocaust experiences – kindertransport, the ghettos, hidden children, false passports, slave labour, camps.
All speakers are people with direct experience of the Holocaust. They have been helped in the presentation of their story and in dealing with questions from both pupils and teachers. The LJCC Holocaust and Anti-Racism Department makes all the arrangements. Supported by a marvellous team of volunteer drivers, the department liaises with the schools, and requests feedback from students and teachers. Speakers give their time voluntarily, but all their travel expenses are met. Some are able to talk more frequently than others; how often they talk, and where, is entirely at each individual’s discretion.
Mindful of the survivors increasing age and frailty, an LJCC Legacy initiative has been launched to enable future generations to keep these testimonies alive, using recorded survivor tapes, personal reminiscences, photos, maps and other memorabilia. Meanwhile, if you have not heard a survivor speak, try to do so. The impact of direct testimony cannot be overestimated.
- Suitable for pupils aged 11 and up
- Holocaust Education Teaching Packs provided
- Online learning resources
- Speakers can speak to whole year groups
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