Holocaust survivor makes plea to younger generation: ‘We must learn to respect each other – the world is big enough for all of us’
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Thursday 9th February 2017

Speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Day event at Watford Synagogue, Holocaust survivor Eve Kugler urged the students present to learn the lessons of history. “Everyone must learn to respect each other. We say ‘Never again’ but unfortunately, so far, we have failed to get this message across.”

Sharing her wartime experience, Eve noted, “There have been many genocides but the Holocaust was unique in that it was mass murder by the State on an industrial scale, crossing country borders. Hitler’s goal was to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe. But the world is big enough for all of us. Tell your friends and family my story and what you have learned today as we need you to be our messengers when we are no longer here.”

Eve Kugler 

Watford Synagogue welcomed over 420 students from local schools to a series of educational sessions on 6 and 7 February. The students, from years 9 to 13 and Sixth Form, had the rare opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor recount their personal stories first-hand and take part in a workshop relating historical facts about the Holocaust to contemporary issues such as racism, discrimination, persecution and citizenship. 

Rabbi Levine remarked, “The Holocaust didn’t start with the gas chambers. It didn’t start with being at the wrong end of a rifle. It started in their hearts. The perpetrators were monsters but they didn’t start out that way - they were just normal human beings like you and me. We all need to right injustices when we see them and challenge hatred. It is vital we don’t stand by.”

Participating schools from the local area included Watford Boys’ Grammar, Hemel Hempstead School and Abbott’s Hill School (Hemel Hempstead), Barclay School (Stevenage), Barnwell School (Stevenage) and Queenswood School (Hatfield), along with students studying Health & Social Care at Watford’s West Herts College.

Abbot's Hill students with Freda Wineman 

The Watford Synagogue events were part of a bigger programme of Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day activities involving over 3,060 pupils representing 49 schools from Dacorum, Hertfordshire, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon, Bedfordshire and Berkshire.  Now in its 16th year, the programme aims to educate students about Nazi atrocities, make a connection between the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and invite students to consider their personal responsibility to promote tolerance in today’s world. Some 31,000 pupils have participated to date.

West Herts College student Shae Forsythe with Harry Olmer 

Any school or college wishing to register their interest in taking part in a Holocaust Memorial Day event next year should email enquiries@northwoodhmd.org.uk or call 08456 448 006.