Learning the Lessons from a Dark Part of History
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, students at Ivybridge Community College gathered to learn more about this tragic event from a survivor from the period.
History students from Year 9 gathered to watch a live link featuring Hedi Argent MBE, a retired social worker, who lived in Austria as a child.
Mrs Argent recalled stories from her childhood – she said that her family was not devoutly religious but was still, “Brought up to be proud of who I was” as a Jew.
She recalled the very first time when she witnessed antisemitism; a client of her father told him that he would not reimburse him for his services because of his faith.
She also told her audience on how she was excluded and made to feel different during her time at school and how other pupils would exclude anyone from their circle of friends if they socialised with her.
Mrs Argent made reference to ‘conspiracy theories’, ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ as all contributing to the prevalence of anti-Semitism.
Students were also given a frank insight into life following the annexation of Austria by Germany, as she recalled being expelled from school, her father being removed from his office, as well as being evicted from the family home, the scariness of Kristallnacht and how the “rest of the world closed to them”.
She also spoke about the difficulty the family encountered obtaining a visa to Britain, the criteria they had to meet (including reassurances that they would not be a burden to society and that they would agree to take on domestic jobs) as well as the complications of just travelling to the country (for example, having to submit to a full search in between each train connection).
This event was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, a registered charity with the aim of educating citizens from all backgrounds about the Holocaust and the lessons that need to be learned going forward.
To close the session, Mr White then introduced students to Nicholas Winton, who played a major role in the Kindertransport operation, which saw over 650 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia at risk of being murdered by Nazi Germany, rescued and resettled in Britain.
Finally, when asked by a student what had made the biggest impact on her life, Hedi Argent said that it was the fear of losing her family and the gratitude she felt for the family she has now.
She said that her brother (who didn’t get the opportunity to come to Britain and was later killed) did not have the opportunity to tell his story, so she should tell hers.
Year 12 visit to the University of Exeter’s annual
Holocaust Memorial Conference
(By Mr Hayward)
In other news, fourteen Year 12 History students attended the 2024 University of Exeter Holocaust Memorial Conference.
This was the eighth edition of the conference, with over 1,200 students from the region attending during this time.
The conference aims to educate students through testimonies from survivors and their relatives, as well as engaging with academics on the complex nature of the Holocaust through a range of mediums.
This year students were asked to consider the purpose and relativity of Holocaust cinema, and to analyse a range of images that documented the lives of victims from within the confines of ghettos.
Ivybridge students led the way in creating and responding to academic discourse, with Amy Bell being recognised for passion for History by Senior Lecturer, Dr Nicholas Terry.
Amy was also interviewed by ITV Westcountry News to detail her experience of the conference.
Many of these students have chosen A Level History due to their interest in German history from GCSE, and some have elected to further their interest within their Extended Project Qualification topic.
We hope to see many of our current Year 11 cohort join us at the ninth annual conference next year.