HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR SPEAKS TO WEY VALLEY HISTORY STUDENTS

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR SPEAKS TO WEY VALLEY HISTORY STUDENTS

One of the darkest periods of 20th century history was vividly brought to life last week for students at The Wey Valley School, with a presentation from 89 year old Holocaust survivor Harry Grenville.
 

Year 11 history students who had been learning about life in Germany from 1918-45 for their GCSEs, heard how Harry and his sister Hannah were brought to England on the Kindertransport in July 1939 when he was just 13 years old, and never saw their parents again.

 

 
Charlotte Guest, Wey Valley’s head of history, said: “This is the third time Mr Grenville has been kind enough to visit us and share his experiences of the Holocaust.
 
“It is important for the students to hear a personal testimony - they get so much from it and are very respectful of this very articulate gentleman.”
 
Harry Grenville’s parents and grandmother died in the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz in 1944 after spending two years in Theresienstadt, an internment camp in the former Czechoslovakia.  
 
Mr Grenville told the students: "The last Red Cross message that ever came from them was in October 1944.
 
"It said they were expecting to go east, and we knew what 'east' meant because all the Theresienstadt internees knew that east meant the extermination camps in Poland.
 
"They were moved there in these dreadful cattle trucks, from the internment camp to the extermination camps, where most of them were killed very soon after arriving.”
 
Charlotte Guest said: “When one of the students asked Mr Grenville how his life in Britain was different after moving from Germany as a young boy, he said he had never had toast with this thing called ‘marmalade’ before, which lightened the mood.”
 
The students said they felt privileged to share the testimony of someone who had a child's view of the Holocaust, and it helped them put that period of history into perspective.
 
Molly Hopkins said: 'I found it so emotional, and meeting Mr Grenville opened my eyes to the reality of the Holocaust.”
 
Jasmine Gurney said: 'It was emotional and heart-breaking to meet somebody who experienced it, but his positivity was inspirational.”
 
Harry, who has lived much of his life in Dorchester, was fostered by a family in Camelford, Cornwall, and educated at a local grammar school.
 
"Hannah and I were lucky, made to feel like part of the family," he said, "many other children who came were not as well treated."
 
Harry’s parents and grandmother are now remembered with plaques on pavement blocks outside their former home in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, where they ran a wholesale packaging company.