S2 Book Talks ft Holocaust Memorial Day

We are marking Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2018 during our S2 Book Talks in January

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, when the books Once, Now and Then by Morris Gleitzman will be discussed with pupils. Our S6 Auschwitz Ambassadors, Cameron Purdy and Conal Taylor will contribute to the talks and share some of their impressions from their trip to Poland and the Auschwitz camp.

Once, Then and Now

Books by Morris Gleitzman

The Real Life Stories

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 2018, 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. www.hmd.org.uk


Our books are

“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.



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

Once, I was living in an orphanage, 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.