History students studying Nazi Germany and Literature students studying The Book Thief recently came together in a joint excursion to the Jewish Holocaust Centre.
They had the great privilege of listening to Auschwitz survivor, Jack (Jakob), who is now 93 years old. You could have heard a pin drop in the silence as he told the story of being a child in Poland when, while out for a walk at age 15, he was taken by the Gestapo and sent to a labour camp. In 1943, after three years in the camp, he was sent to Auschwitz where he was tattooed with a number and lived in severe hunger and deprivation for a further two years. When Auschwitz was finally liberated in 1945, Jack discovered he was the sole survivor of his family.
Coming home on the train, the students entered a deep discussion about the story they had just heard. They discussed the dangers of racial profiling and prejudice and the importance of seeing all people not just by their race, but as members of the human race.
Jack ended his story by pointing out that this will be the last generation who will ever listen to a Holocaust survivor in person. This really struck a chord with the students, and they left the excursion having experienced something they will never forget.