Bishop's Stortford High School students listen to Holocaust survivor's haunting story
A Holocaust survivor’s moving story emphasised the horrors of the Final Solution to students at Bishop’s Stortford High School.
Hannah Lewis has become a regular visitor to the London road campus and spoke to Year 12 pupils again last week.
She spent her own childhood in the Nazi labour camps of the Second World War and talked for an hour about her memories of that terrible time and the brutality she endured.
She shared treasured family photographs with the children and they listened in stunned silence as she recounted the death of her mother, murdered in front of her.
Hannah was born in June 1937 in the small market town of Wlodawa, Poland, on the border with Ukraine.
The only child of Adam and Haya, her family was prosperous and her life was comfortable until war broke out.
In 1942 the Nazis began taking the Jews of Wlodawa to either nearby Sobibór extermination camp or various labour camps. In 1943 Hannah and her family were rounded up and forcibly marched to Adampol.
Her father managed to escape and joined the partisans while Hannah and her mother remained in the labour camp.
In the last winter of the occupation, Hannah fell ill with a high temperature and suspected typhoid so her mother would not leave when her father came to warn them about a Nazi killing squad.
The next morning, Haya was shot and Hannah remained in the camp until she was liberated by a Soviet soldier.
After the war, she was reunited with her father and came to live in London in 1949.
Now a mother of four with eight grandchildren, she was unable to talk about her ordeal for many years but now shares her experiences so future generation understand the impact of the Holocaust.
Simon Etheridge, subject leader for religious studies and citizenship, said; “Hannah is a truly inspirational, humble, eloquent, kind, intelligent and graceful speaker and person. Hannah is everything a human being should be. She was recognised by the Queen in 2018 with an MBE.
“Hannah told the history of how her wonderful mother sacrificed her life for her when the evil of Nazism was outside where they were living. Hannah’s story was also one of resilience both then and since.”
He added: “Students were encouraged to always remember and never forget the Holocaust where so many people from so many different groups suffered persecution. They were encouraged to
pass this history on their children and children’s children so the world never ever forgets.
“We pay tribute to Hannah, 81 years of age, her family and, of course, Hannah’s mother who lives on through Hannah’s witness, wisdom and warmth.”