Horrors of WWII as a Jew brought to life

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A Holocaust survivor gave Wetherby High pupils a moving account of her time as a prisoner of Auschwitz.

Iby Knill recently visited the school and told of her vivid recollections as a Jew in Nazi occupied Europe when millions of Jewish people were persecuted, tortured and imprisoned and killed in concentration camps during World War Two.

A school spokesman said: “Through her personal testimony of a childhood broken by war, living in hiding, forced labour and imprisonment in Auschwitz, she provided pupils with first-hand experience of the horrors of the persecution of the Jewish people during those years.

“She made their history lessons real and immediate in a way that turned the written word of books into shared memories of a horror that must never happen again.”

A pupil added: “The experience was a moving and a memorable moment in my school life.

“It brought to life the reality of what we had studied in our history lesson and was a sobering reminder of what can happen when evil takes hold in society.”

Sixth Form pupils from Wetherby High recently visited Poland and spent a day in Auschwitz.

One pupil added: “The experience was an eye-opener, it gave me a greater depth of knowledge into what happened.

“It really allowed me to empathise with those people who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.”

Teacher Miss Dunn, who took the students to Poland said of these first hand encounters of the events of history “It was an incredible experience for our students who were able to experience so many different emotions over the course of the four day trip.

“The compassion and empathy that the students demonstrated was remarkable and the memories and experiences they had will not only assist them in their GCSE and A level studies but will stay with them forever.”

Iby Knill, of Chapel Allerton, was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to Holocaust education and interfaith cohesion in 2017 after giving talks to over 50,000 children.

Mrs Knill grew up in Czechoslovakia and escaped to Hungary in 1942 as Nazi persecution of Jews accelerated.

As a young woman, she spent time in hiding and helping the local Resistance movement before she was captured and taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

She spent much of her internment working as a slave labourer in an armaments factory until being liberated by American troops.