Pupils Hear Holocaust Survivor’s Story
Eva Clarke tells Senior School pupils of her survival against all odds.
Senior School pupils this week heard powerful testimony from Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke, who was born in Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945, weighing just three pounds. She and her mother, Anka, were the only survivors of her family, fifteen of whom were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau: three of Eva’s grandparents, her father, uncles, aunts and her seven-year-old cousin, Peter.
The talk was the culmination of a cross-curricular afternoon of lessons for our Third Form, organised around international Holocaust Memorial Day. The day, which this year had the theme ‘The Power of Words’, marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945.
During lessons in Religious Studies, Geography and English, pupils explored the history of the Holocaust and its relevance to their lives today. In Design Technology and Engineering (DTE), each pupil also made a candle holder bearing the name of an individual whose life story they had researched on a central database of victims’ names. These were placed on the steps in Kimbolton Castle’s courtyard, during a short candlelit memorial ceremony.
After school, pupils, parents and staff listened in absolute silence as Eva talked about her family’s experience of the Second World War, and shared family photos. This was followed by a question and answer session, which enabled pupils to discuss the lessons of the Holocaust in more depth.
Eva told pupils: “There are two reasons we survived - apart from my mother's inherent toughness. The first is that on the 28th April 1945 the Nazis ran out of gas for the gas chamber at Mauthausen - my birthday was the 29th. The second reason is that three days after my birth the American army liberated the camp.”
She added: “I tell my story to remember those who were killed and for those people who have never had one person to remember them. I tell it so we can learn lessons from the Holocaust and to counteract racism and prejudice.”
Kimbolton School History teacher and event organiser Mr Ben Mills said: “It was a privilege for us to welcome Eva to our school; her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors that so many endured. Our pupils tackled some difficult issues and took part in a mature and thoughtful discussion. We hope that by hearing Eva’s story, it will make a positive difference to their lives.”
Thank you to the Holocaust Educational Trust for facilitating Eva coming to talk at Kimbolton.