Holocaust Survivor Visits

“In the last couple of years I realised that, as one of the last witnesses, I must speak out.”

Tomi Reichental visited the school on Thurday the 16th of December 2010 and spoke to eighty 5th and 6th Year history students about his incredible life.  Tomi, who lost 35 members of his family in the Holocaust, gave his account of being imprisoned as a child at Belsen concentration camp.

Tomi was nine-years old in October 1944 when he was rounded up by the Gestapo in a shop in Bratislava, Slovakia.  Along with 12 other members of his family he was taken to a detention camp where the elusive Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner had the power of life and death.

Tomi spoke of one of his earliest memories, watching his Grandmother sew the star of David onto his school uniform.  Tomi brought in a replica badge and displayed where it would be situated on his clothing.  The black and white pictures in the history textbook came to life in front of our eyes. The emotional tension in the room was palpable.

Tomi’s story is a story of the past.  It is also a story for our times.  The Holocaust reminds us of the dangers of racism and intolerance, providing lessons that are relevant today especially in schools with a generation who are about to step into a world of economic instability and uncertainty. We must never forget.

It was a true honour to have Tomi Reichental visit our school. It is hard to express the value and importance of Tomi’s words and effect they will have on the students and myself for years to come.

Report by Ms Ruth Eveson (History teacher).

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