On Monday 16th June Archway welcomed Mr Rudi Oppenheimer. He is a survivor from Bergen-Belsen where his parents perished.
He spoke to a group of 60 Year 9 and Year 10 students telling them of his experiences. This was a moving testimony and an opportunity where we were able to share how Mr Oppenheimer, his brother and sister survived. One of the most moving moments was when Mr Oppenheimer spoke of the day he found his mother had died. He went to see her in the camp hospital but there was a stranger in the bed who said his mother had died. Her possessions had been stolen.
Mr Oppenheimer is now 83 years old. He spoke of how he worked in the camp serving a watery turnip soup and often had to stand for hours in freezing conditions during roll calls.
His family left Berlin in 1936 to escape Nazi persecution, but in June 1943 Hitler’s army poured into Amsterdam where the Oppenheimer’s were living.
After seven months at the Westerbork camp in Holland, Mr Oppenheimer, his elder brother Paul, younger sister Eve and their parents, were rounded up and transported to Bergen-Belsen. Their grandparents had been sent to Sobibor but the family were sent to Belsen because seven-year-old Eve had British citizenship. She had been born in London while the family stayed with an uncle during their journey from Germany to Holland.
Mr Oppenheimer now travels to schools and colleges around the country to recount his testimony. We also welcomed Alex Fender from the Holocaust Education Trust who spoke to students about pre war life for Jewish people in Europe and the Nuremberg laws.
The Holocaust Education Trust is a government funded organisation which works to promote Holocaust education for young people in Britain and arranges visits to Auschwitz for teachers and students.