Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

hmd15

S2 classes will be participating in library book talks, during January, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

Holocaust Memorial Day is a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. On HMD we can honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

One of the ways in which we will mark Holocaust Memorial Day will be in the S2 Library book talks next week, when the books Once, Now and Then by Morris Gleitzman will be discussed with pupils. Our S6 Auschwitz Ambassadors, Grace Carter and Michael Bowley will show the S2 pupils their powerpoint presentation and will add to the talks and share some of their impressions from their trip to Poland and the Auschwitz camp.

 

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Books by Morris Gleitzman
The Real Life Stories

We are marking Holocaust Memorial Day in our S2 Book Talks in January.  

Imagine waking up to find that the neighbours you have known all your life and even sat next to at school, now walk past you without stopping, now forbid their children from playing with yours, now spit at you and even attack you. Imagine having nowhere to turn, that the walls are closing in and that there is no escape. Imagine that you have done nothing wrong, yet you are to be punished nonetheless and no one will stand by you.

On Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January 2015, we will remember and discover more about those who were forced to live through these experiences – communities which were destroyed in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Every year on 27 January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD).  The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is a charity which works to raise awareness of HMD. You can find out more about what they do on their website. http://www.hmd.org.uk

Our books are by Morris Gleitzman

once

Once came from my imagination.  From 1939 until 1945 the world was at war, and the leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, tried to destroy the Jewish people in Europe. His followers, the Nazis, and those who supported them, murdered six million Jews including one and a half million children. They also killed a lot of other people, many of whom offered shelter to the Jews. We call this time of killing the Holocaust.

My grandfather was a Jew from Krakow in Poland. He left there long before that time, but his extended family didn’t and most of them perished.

Ten years ago I read a book about Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jewish doctor and children’s author who devoted his life to caring for young people. Over many years he helped run an orphanage for two hundred Jewish children. In 1942, when the Nazis murdered these orphans, Janusz Korczak was offered his freedom but chose to die with the children rather than abandon them.  Janusz Korczak became my hero. His story sowed a seed in my imagination.

On the way to writing Once I read many real life stories – diaries, letters, notes and memories of people who were young at the time of the Holocaust. Most of these young people died, but their stories survived, and you can read some of them in lots of books.

Then also came from my imagination, but like Once was inspired by a period of history that was all too real.

As with Once, I couldn’t have written this story without first reading many books about the Holocaust. Books full of the voices of the real people who lived and struggled and loved and died and, just a few of them, survived in that terrible time. I also read about the generosity and bravery of the people who risked their lives to shelter others, often children who were not members of their family or faith, and by doing so saved them.

nowNow – The real life stories in the books mentioned above were also an important background to this third part of the trilogy.

As were the real life stories of the people and communities caught up in the terrible bushfires that swept through parts of Victoria, Australia in February 2009. Many of those stories were recorded in the extensive media coverage of that time, and many others live on in the following books:
Black Saturday edited by John McGourty
A Future In Flames by Danielle Clode
Worst Of Days by Karen Kissane
Inferno by Roger Franklin

An extract:

oncesingleorphan  

in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been and I almost caused a riot.

It was because of the carrot.  You know how when a nun serves you very hot soup from a big metal pot and she makes you lean in close so she doesn’t drip and the steam from the pot makes your glasses go all misty and you can’t wipe them because you’re holding your dinner bowl and the fog doesn’t clear even when you pray to God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Pope and Adolf Hitler?  
That’s happening to me.
Somehow I find my way towards my table. I use my ears for navigation.
Dodie who always sits next to me is a loud slurper because of his crooked teeth.

I hold my bowl above my head so other kids can’t pinch my soup while I’m fogged up and I use Dodie’s slurping noises to guide me in.
I feel for the edge of the table and put my bowl down and wipe my glasses.
That’s when I see the carrot.
It’s floating in my soup, huge among the flecks of cabbage and the tiny blobs of pork fat and the few lonely lentils and the bits of grey plaster from the kitchen ceiling.
A whole carrot.
I can’t believe it. Three years and eight months I’ve been in this orphanage and I haven’t had a whole carrot in my dinner bowl once. Neither has anyone else. Even the nuns don’t get whole carrots, and they get bigger servings than us kids because they need the extra energy for being holy.
We can’t grow vegetables up here in the mountains. Not even if we pray a lot. It’s because of the frosts. So if a whole carrot turns up in this place, first it gets admired, then it gets chopped into enough pieces so that sixty-two kids, eleven nuns and one priest can all have a bit.
I stare at the carrot.
At this moment I’m probably the only kid in Poland with a whole carrot in his dinner bowl. For a few seconds I think it’s a miracle. Except it can’t be because miracles only happened in ancient times and this is 1942.
Then I realise what the carrot means and I have to sit down quick before my legs give way.
I can’t believe it.
At last. Thank you God, Jesus, Mary, the Pope and Adolf Hitler, I’ve waited so long for this.
It’s a sign.
This carrot is a sign from Mum and Dad. They’ve sent my favourite vegetable to let me know their problems are finally over. To let me know that after three long years and eight long months things are finally improving for Jewish booksellers. To let me know they’re coming to take me home.
Yes.
Dizzy with excitement, I stick my fingers into the soup and grab the carrot.
Luckily the other kids are concentrating on their own dinners, spooning their soup up hungrily and peering into their bowls in case there’s a speck of meat there, or a speck of rat poo.
I have to move fast.
If the others see my carrot there’ll be a jealousy riot.
This is an orphanage. Everyone here is meant to have dead parents. If the other kids find out mine aren’t dead, they’ll get really upset and the nuns here could be in trouble with the Catholic head office in Warsaw for breaking the rules.
‘Felix Saint Stanislaus.’
I almost drop the carrot. It’s Mother Minka’s voice, booming at me from the high table.
Everyone looks up.
‘Don’t fiddle with your food, Felix,’ says Mother Minka. ‘If you’ve found an insect in your bowl, just eat it and be grateful.’
The other kids are all staring at me. Some are grinning. Others are frowning and wondering what’s going on. I try not to look like a kid who’s just slipped a carrot into his pocket. I’m so happy I don’t care that my fingers are stinging from the hot soup.
Mum and Dad are coming at last.
They must be down in the village. They must have sent the carrot up here with Father Ludwik to surprise me.
When everyone has gone back to eating, I give Mother Minka a grateful smile. It was good of her to make a joke to draw attention away from my carrot.
There were two reasons Mum and Dad chose this orphanage, because it was the closest and because of Mother Minka’s goodness. When they were bringing me here, they told me how in all the years Mother Minka was a customer of their bookshop, back before things got difficult for Jewish booksellers, she never once criticised a single book.
Mother Minka doesn’t see my smile, she’s too busy glaring at the Saint Kazimierz table, so I give Sister Elwira a grateful smile too. Sister Elwira doesn’t notice either because she’s too busy serving the last few kids and being sympathetic to a girl who’s crying about the amount of ceiling plaster in her soup.
They’re so kind, these nuns. I’ll miss them when Mum and Dad take me home and I stop being Catholic and go back to being Jewish.
‘Don’t you want that?’ says a voice next to me.
Dodie is staring at my bowl. His is empty. He’s sucking his teeth and I can see he’s hoping my soup is up for grabs.
Over his shoulder, Marek and Telek are sneering.
‘Grow up, Dodek,’ says Marek, but in his eyes there’s a flicker of hope that he might get some too.
Part of me wants to give my soup to Dodie because his mum and dad died of sickness when he was three. But these are hard times and food is scarce and even when your tummy’s stuffed with joy you still have to force it down.
I force it down.
Dodie grins. He knew I’d want it. The idea that I wouldn’t is so crazy it makes us both chuckle.
Then I stop. I’ll have to say goodbye to everyone here soon. That makes me feel sad. And when the other kids see Mum and Dad are alive, they’ll know I haven’t been truthful with them. That makes me feel even sadder.
I tell myself not to be silly. It’s not like they’re my friends, not really. You can’t have friends when you’re leading a secret life. With friends you might get too relaxed and blurt stuff out and then they’ll know you’ve just been telling them a story.
But Dodie feels like my friend.
While I finish my soup I try to think of a good thing I can do for him. Something to show him I’m glad I know him. Something to make his life here a bit better after I’ve gone, after I’m back in my own home with my own books and my own mum and dad.

I know exactly what I can do for Dodie.