Mr Wilding's words Lent week 4
“Be the light in the darkness.”
Irrespective of its genesis, I’ve needed to call to mind this instruction this week, reminding as it does all of us to rise above the doom and gloom of the current news.
Mr Sam Mulholland’s Holocaust Memorial Assembly this Thursday did everything presentations to school should do. Firstly, the assembly fitted into that wider arc of acceptance of knowledge and the building of societal memory requires, to commemorate and affirm that the deliberate slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis last century was truly a crime against humanity.
Mr Muholland reminded us that we had been fortunate enough to be able to invite a Holocaust survivor to speak in person in school (main picture). Rudi Oppenheimer, born in Holland, grew up in the same area as Anne Frank in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, he was taken to Belsen concentration camp where his entire family was murdered. This photo is from his visit in 2017; sadly Rudi passed away in May 2019. You can read more on his life story here.
This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 is 'Be the light in the darkness'. It encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide. Mr Mulholland’s considered use of photographs from the Nazi period to current propaganda used by political groups in the UK and the USA highlighted the close similarity of images of migrants now and then, providing a warning that building ‘fear of foreigners and faiths’ could clearly lead us down the same path of accepting Crimes against Humanity as ‘necessary’ to protect ourselves.
The challenge is always to keep our eyes open for all the world, as Rudi Oppenheimer made clear in his life’s work, “Standing by and doing nothing is not enough.” In closing, Mr Mulholland reminded us we are living through a period of great social change. There have been many recent examples of people being the ‘light in the darkness’ and standing up against injustice.
I was able to remind school that the statue of Sir Nicholas Winton on Maidenhead Station had been lit this year to 'Be the light in the darkness'. Sir Nicholas arranged for eight trains of young Jewish children separated from their families by the Nazis to leave Prague in Czechoslovakia in 1939 - his contribution recognised on both Maidenhead and Prague Railways stations.
It was wonderful to receive the clear direction from the Prime Minister on Wednesday that schools can commence their planning for their reopening for all. There might be some benefits of home-working on a Friday morning when the rain is hammering down, but being able to set our sights on a date this term has put a smile on a lot of faces I know.
Please do have a great weekend, and … budding chefs in Years 7, 8 and 9, please don’t forget we are making flap-jacks and sausage rolls Period 5 Tuesday - a mouth watering thought to close.