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Commemorating International Holocaust Day

Yesterday, 27th January, marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The UN designated the 27th January of every year as International Holocaust Day. There were major commemorations in Prague and Auschwitz itself. At Townshend, Mr Taheri played music from the soundtrack of Schindler’s List in Assembly, and Level IV students watched a thought-provoking documentary in their continuing studies for the A Level explorations of the Holocaust.

Our school librarian, Mrs. Dana Dean, showed me a book given to the school by a local Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein. Her book, All But My Life, is a memoir about her time in Auschwitz and her experiences teaching students the lessons from dark days of history and how not to repeat them. The book introduces readers “to last century’s terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.”

In recent years, Townshend has taken two trips to Auschwitz (2011, 2014). As a teacher I have been struck by the dignity and respect shown by students and staff on these visits to this solemn place. It gives me confidence for our future visits to historic sites, including the upcoming trip to Berlin in February.

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