The Thomas Hardye School

THS Keeps the Memory Alive during Holocaust Memorial Week 2015


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The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Week was ‘Keep the Memory Alive’ and among the plethora of activities going on across the key stages during the week trying to just that, year 10 History students received a Holocaust survivor testimony from local resident, Harry Grenville, who came to Britain as part of the Kindertransport evacuations in the 1930s.  He spoke openly of his memories from the rise of the Nazis through to the attempts being made at reconciliation. 

Year 10 student Georgia Harmey said “I found Harry’s talk fascinating. Harry’s story is one that deserves to be told to the younger generation so it truly doesn’t happen again.”  Other Year 10 Historians said “It teaches us that history is a human experience and not just something that happens in a textbook.” And “Terrible things can happen to people without a valid reason, and if we don’t learn from it, it will happen again.”.  Sadly however, despite the world saying ‘never again’ in 1945 in response to the various genocides, massacres and persecutions that happened across the world from the start of the 1930s to 1945.  Genocide and persecution has happened on a massive scale, and continues to happen across the world today.  Academic departments, other than History, involved in this year’s Holocaust Memorial Week were: Art, English, Geography, Graphics, Maths, MFL, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Science and Theology and Ethics.  Each department focused on 2 things, first the concept of memory and second one of the three major anniversaries that fall in 2015.  These anniversaries are the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust; the 40th Anniversary of the start of the Cambodian genocide and 20th Anniversary of the Bosnian genocide. 

One of the main reasons for keeping the memory of such suffering alive is to act as a warning for the future.  Genocide does not erupt out of nowhere, they are the result of a very long, often very deliberate and well planned, set of events that does not have an inevitable outcome.  Genocides do not have to happen, they are the consequence of, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, good people doing nothing to stop evil triumphing.  A lack of respect, empathy and inclusion leads to dehumanisation, segregation, scapegoating, stereotyping, fear and ultimately human suffering.  

Carl WilkensTHS was proud to host Dr Carl Wilkens on the first leg of his 2015 UK lecture tour as part of Holocaust Memorial Week.  Dr Wilkens refused a US presidential order to leave Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and was responsible for the saving of hundreds during the genocide.  Dr Wilkens Story is but a single example among many of what extraordinary things people can do as a result of their own choices.  Human choice is responsible for suffering and it can be seen all around us in the world today from the persecution of the Yazidi by the extremist group IS, to the ongoing genocide in the Sudan, from the rise of more political polarisation in the West, to the scapegoating and stereotyping of immigrant populations in the UK.  See Carl and Teresa Wilkens interviewed here

Holocaust and Genocide Education Programme Coordinator at THS, Kevin Matthews, said “Yehuda Bauer, once said “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”, I hope that from this week, and our increasing work as an IoE Beacon School in Holocaust Education, more people will not stand by and do nothing whilst evil is triumphing, but will take the lessons of history seriously so they are not repeated.” 

See our Holocaust and Genocide Education Programme web pages at:



March 2015