Holocaust survivor leaves lasting impression

The Rainford High community had the privilege of welcoming inspirational Holocaust survivor, Harry Kessler, into school on Thursday 7 March.

As part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), students from Years 9, 12 and 13 heard a first-hand account from the 93-year-old survivor who endured the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Harry Kessler shared in detail his personal story, which left a lasting mark on the hearts and minds of students and staff.

Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1930, Harry escaped persecution from Nazi occupation in both Austria and Czechoslovakia. He came to England in May 1939 and had no knowledge of the language.

Sadly, some of Harry’s family were not so fortunate, including his aunty Elsa, who was deported to Auschwitz where she died in 1944.

As part of the poignant visit, Harry participated in a question and answer session with students, offering valuable insights into the historical context, personal experiences, and the enduring message of hope that emerged from such a dark period in human history.

Speaking about the day, one student commented: “Hearing from a Holocaust survivor was a really powerful experience. It’s one thing to read about history in books, but having a survivor here, in person, made it so much more real. It was truly inspirational.”

The visit forms part of Rainford High’s ongoing commitment to providing students with a well-rounded education that extends beyond textbooks and traditional learning methods.

Ian Young, principal at Rainford High, said: “It was a privilege for us to welcome Harry Kessler to our school and his testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Harry’s testimony, it will enrich our students’ learning, make a positive difference in their own lives and they will embrace the key element of our school ethos that Everyone Matters.”

Karen Pollock CBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust added: “The Holocaust Educational Trust educates and engages students from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor. Harry Kessler’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing his testimony, students will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.

“At the Trust, we impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”