NewVIc students remember the Holocaust at Stratford Picture House

Ann Kuhn and Bob Kirk after speaking to NewVIc  students at Stratford Circus

Over a 100 NewVIc students from history, childcare and health and social care courses attended the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Event on Friday 20 January at Stratford Picture House, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day which will be held on 27 January.

The Nazis assumed power in Germany in 1933, using propaganda, persecution, and legislation to deny human and civil rights to Jews. They used centuries of antisemitism as their foundation. By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had perished in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.

The Kindertransport was a unique humanitarian programme which ran between November 1938 and September 1939.  Approximately 10,000 children, the majority of whom were Jewish, were sent from their homes and families in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain. A video featuring original footage of the Kindertransport programme was shown and was followed by speakers Ann Kuhn and Bob Kirk who were themselves brought to the UK by Kindertransport.

Ann Kuhn was born in Berlin, in 1928. After the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, when Ann was 11 years old, her parents decided it would be safer to send her to England, on the Kindertransport. Ann arrived in London at Waterloo Station, wearing a label around her neck and carrying a small suitcase. She never saw her parents again.

Bob Kirk was born in Hanover, in 1925. His parents also decided to send him to England after the Kristallnacht pogrom and he left in May 1939, when he was 14 years old. He stayed with several different foster families, before eventually joining the British Army.  He later found out that his parents had been transported to a concentration camp in Latvia. They did not return. Bob and Ann met at a club for young Jewish refugees, they married in May 1950.

The event was a moving personal account of a terrible event with life changing consequences. Bob and Ann left the audience with this final thought: “It is good to understand the past, and what has happened so that it cannot happen again in the future. Show understanding and sympathy; show us how to live again. We all deserve dignity, respect, love and support, no matter what religion and colour you are”.

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