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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Holocaust Survivor Visits Year 9

To reflect on the events of the Holocaust, Year 9 Senior Boys heard a testimony from Holocaust survivor, Henri Obstfeld, as part of a day dedicated to learning about the Holocaust on Thursday 28 January.

Before the pupils heard Henri’s testimony, the boys took part in a range of workshops studying the Holocaust and genocide in different subjects: in English they looked anti-Semitism literature; Science the ethics of developing the gas used in chambers, originally used for fertiliser; History they learned about source analysis of prejudice; RS the ethics of being a bystander/perpetrator and Geography they learned about genocides around the world.

The boys then had a presentation from Holocaust survivor, Henri Obstfeld who spoke of his experience with the Holocaust.  Henri was born in Amsterdam on 11 April 1940, where he lived with his mother and father. In May 1940 German Troops occupied Holland, and by 1942 Jews in Amsterdam were being rounded up and sent to work camps. Henri’s parents received papers directing him to present himself at a place in Amsterdam. As a precaution Henri’s parents took him to his Uncle’s and waited to see what happened, however no one came looking for him. They were understandably alarmed by this, so sent Henri to live with a Dutch couple. Henri lived with the couple until the end of the war, after having been evacuated and forced to move on a couple of occasions, where he was finally reunited with his parents. The Dutch couple were later honoured for their bravery as they had put their own lives in danger to rescue Henri.

After hearing Henri’s account, Senior Boys asked their inspiring speaker questions, to better understand the nature of the Holocaust.

Zac Brewer, Year 9 pupil commented;

“It really helps with our studies on the Holocaust to have a visitor, such as Henri Obstfeld, come in and talk about his experiences and gives us a great sense of empathy. What moved me most was how he was able to go back to living with his parents having become attached to his foster parents, however it was great to hear they still saw each other for events such as Christmas.”

Charlie Bretherton, Assistant Head Pastoral, said;

“The boys listened attentively for an hour and a half as Mr. Obstfeld told them his story, and their interest was illustrated by the number of questions they wanted to ask at the end of the talk. It is extremely important that they hear these type of first-hand accounts; to know that the things they learn about in the classroom are real and to see the human factor. Given current events in the world at the moment, the lessons that can be taken from the Holocaust are vital.”

Read one pupil's account of the day here 

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