What we can learn from the Holocaust for our lives today

Over the last few weeks, Year 6 at Webster Primary has been working with the University of Leeds and the National Holocaust Centre and Museum to think about the meaning of the Holocaust for them today. Here is some of the work we've produced and some of our thoughts about what we've learnt from the project.

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The main focus of our project was on the impact of the Holocaust on young people like us. So as a starting point for our work, we began by making some short films about who we are and where we come from. We made four films as a class that show what a varied bunch we are and the many journeys that we and our families have taken to end up in Manchester.

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A really important part of the project was visiting the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. We'll say more about this later in our story. But one of the most important parts of our visit to the centre was our meeting with Susi Bechhöfer, who came to the UK on the Kindertransport. We had the chance to ask Susi lots of questions and here's a film we made about it.

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Join us to discover Leo's story at the National Holocaust Centre.

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As well as hearing from Susi, we also learned a lot more from our trip to the Holocaust Centre. We visited the Journey exhibition, where we heard about a boy called Leo Stein. We saw how the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany affected him and his family.
We also walked around the gardens, where there is lots of art that tells stories about the Holocaust.
We have made a virtual tour to help share our experience with you.

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Take a tour of the National Holocaust Centre gardens!

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We also found lots of other information about Susi's life and other films that have been made about it. As well as documentaries made by the BBC we also found the interview made by another school doing a similar project to us with the University and the National Holocaust Centre.

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This is the film of a performance by a young dance troupe in Leeds who have been working with the University on a piece based on the testimony of people who survived the Holocaust.

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Paul from the University of Leeds also showed us some other films of young people he's worked with to think about the lessons we can learn today from the Holocaust.

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This is a film Paul made with a group of people in South Africa that thinks about how the Holocaust relates to other dark periods of history and what we can do to make sure it never happens again.

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Just before we entered the service...

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We attended Westminster Abbey for the 20th anniversary of the Holocaust centre. We said " We pledge ourselves to promote peace in all the world, to live in generous love for all humanity and to strive for the welfare and unity of the nations." We received white roses from Holocaust survivors. The white roses represented peace. Pupils walked with a Holocaust survivor by their side. We sang prayers with people of different faiths. Westminster Abbey was about being inclusive and showing we respect all religions and not discriminate.

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The National Holocaust Centre Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey.
We are sat in the red jumpers on the right hand side.
The survivors are sat near the front on the left. If you look closely you can see the white roses!

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Here we are during at the service reciting the pledge:
"Let us pledge ourselves to promote peace in all the world, to live in
generous love for all humanity, and to strive for the welfare and unity
of the nations."

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Just after the service - what an achievement!

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This passage is about the exhibitions at the holocaust centre. The first exhibition is about a boy called Leo stein who is Jewish.there are 6 room a living room,a classroom,out side his dad's and the others shops,the kinder transport and a hiding room.
Leo's dad's shop was destroyed on the night of broken glass.

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A picture of a synagogue after kristallnacht.

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This passage is about Leo Stein.Leo was a Jewish German boy.he was born in 1928. He lived during the world war and the holocaust. He had to travel using the kinder transport which was a train to help the Jewish children escape the terrible horrors of the holocaust.

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we've been thinking about how Leo lived.He lived like a normal kid. He went to school, played with his friends and went to the synagogue. Leo didn't look like how Hitler described Jews. Hitler said Jews had black hair and big noses.Hitler didn't treat Jews in the same way as other people. Leo had a lot of interests because in his house he had a lot of books like Torah he also had a lot of toys.

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This is a propaganda poster by the Nazis showing how they said Jews looked like and comparing them to foxes because he said they were cunning.

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This is the video of our performance of The Horrors of War.

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This is an opera made by year 6 called The Horrors of War.
This is a play about the holocaust and how people survived it.
Manchester camarata helped us make this opera .

First we started making an list about what we would miss if we had to leave the country and then we continued by making a song.
The boys made a stick song and the girls made a sock song.
This song was important for our play because we learned that we don't have everything we can make things up using our imagination. We wrote letters about our lives. The kids on the kinder transport wrote a letter about their lives. We read our letters out during the play. We learnt the actions for the song and we practised until we learnt it of by heart. Then we had to do this for another three songs. The hardest song was the last song because we had to sing in groups at different times. That was confusing. We enjoyed the third song the most, which was about our letters and how we should always have hope. We really enjoyed performing this in front of the rest of the school and our parents/careers.

Here are the lyrics we made up for one of the songs in the play:

This is a stick, only a stick, but this is my stick
This stick helps my imagination run free
I use it as my racing car, under the bridge and over the star
Faster than light
I use it as my rocket ship over the moon and on a long trip
Faster than night

This is a sock, only a sock, but this is my sock
This sock helps my imagination run free
I use it as my special doll, dressing her up and brushing her hair
Holding her tight

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This is a display about Westminster abbey and it includes some art work we did. We made figures of people on the streets scared and lonely. We used wire and newspaper to make this and painted it black.

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This is our art. We have been having some visitors to help us with our art project Horrors of War.

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These are represented like a personal possession of people who were in the concentration camp. We wrote messages on the sculptures imagining what their owners would like to say.

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Camarata means a small orchestra or choir.
The Manchester Camarata came to Webster school.
We enjoyed hearing Helen playing the trumpet ,Paula playing the Violin. Richard helped us with the songs and played the piano.

Samuel enjoyed playing the warm up games. Kenaya enjoyed doing the mirror drama work. We wrote the words for the music. we enjoyed singing. Mr Jackson reported the performance on camera. the Horrors of War tells us about the Horrible things that happened in World War Two.

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On Monday 13th June, Year 6 visited the Stockport Air Raid Shelters, which are six miles south of Manchester city centre. We had been learning about children in Europe who had been forced to leave their home because of World War Two, and we were going to experience what life was like for evacuated children in England.

The Air Raid Shelters are a system of almost 1 mile of underground air-raid shelters dug under Stockport. When we arrived we pretended to be evacuees who had arrived in Stockport from Manchester to get away from the Blitz. We were met by a nurse and an air-raid warden, who split us into two groups so they could guide us through the tunnels. The nurse took us to the kitchen where there was a big tank to store water; there were no taps or running water. After my group went to the toilets, where we found out they used newspapers a toilet tissue and had a sponge on a stick to clean up afterwards.

One of the best parts of the day was the blackout. There was no light and we counted to fifteen with our eyes close and then opened them. I could not even see my hands in front of my face! This was very scary, especially if there was an air-raid happening.

We also practiced what to do is there was a gas attack by the Germans. You had to wear a gas mask which was strapped very tightly onto our heads. It was smelly and uncomfortable.

I feel grateful because I was not born during that time. I f was I would be little and confused because I don't understand.

- Reeyana, Siham, Zara, Sara & Saffron.

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With David Teacher, a real-life D-day veteran!

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On Thursday 16th June 2016 Webster Primary School went to the Imperial War Museum to get a better understanding of the Horrors of World War Two and the Holocaust. Year 6 and our class teachers attended.

We were fortunate to meet a veteran named David Teacher, who fought in the D-day landings. He was very brave and France gave him the Legion d'Honneur, which is a little bit like being knighted. Some of us were very lucky and got to have a photo with David.

We visited an exhibition about rationing and clothing in World War 2 called "Fashion on the Ration". We saw the fabrics that were rationed such as silk and leather. There were some beautiful clothes, and in some peoples' opinions they were better than modern clothing.

We watched a film about the experiences of some people during the Holocaust. It was an extremely serious and traumatising experience for so many people.
Later on we visited a room and sat in our groups to investigate the stories of two people who lived during the war. There were lots of photographs, objects and artefacts for us to investigate and learn about them. Some people also got to dress up in real clothes as the people.

Altogether it was an excellent trip and we learned a lot about World War 2 and how lucky we are.

- Amarah, Kia, Lina & Amarah

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Our Air Raid Precaution Warden.
"PUT THAT LIGHT OUT!"

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A cheerful and optimistic evacuee on the way to him new home.

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Off to join the navy in what might be the heaviest coat in the world!

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A wartime wedding wearing "Fashion on the Ration"!

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This poster shows how Nazis used Jews as scapegoats for anything bad in Germany.

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After learning about many of the terrible events of the Holocaust, we began to wonder why they had happened. We wanted to know why the Nazis had committed such atrocities, and why so many people had chosen to support them. The Nazis used propaganda to try to convince people to follow them. We decided to investigate some Nazi posters to see what techniques they used to influence Germans to be pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic. We read books like "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" and "Rose Blanche" when we learned that there were some good people in Nazi Germany. So how did the Nazis get people to do such horrible things?

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Hitler wanted to use the Berlin Olympics in 1936 to show the world that Aryan people were the strongest and fastest. He also wanted to tell then that Germany was a powerful country again.

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Although man people agreed with Hitler's ideas about Aryan people, he was proved wrong by Jesse Owens. Jesse Owens was a black American athlete who won 4 gold medals at the Berlin Olympics.

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This is another poster where the Nazis tried to prove they were strong and powerful.

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The Nazis wanted people to follow Adolf Hitler as their leader, and sometimes showed him as the saviour of Germany.

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This posters shows how the Nazis tried to brainwash children to follow them. They especially wanted young Aryans to join the Hitler Youth to train them as soldiers. We saw this happen to the character Rudi in "The Book Thief".

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We wrote some poetry as our way of remembering the events of the Holocaust. We used some existing poetry as inspiration to write our own. In particular we read: "Holocaust" by Barbara Sonek,
"Remembrance" by Tawnysha Lynch,
"First They Came" by Pastor Martin Niemoller,
"Yellow Butterfly" by Pavel Friedman.

Here is some of our work:

Once I was a human being,
Now I am rubbish to them.
We used to be happy,
Now we are miserable.
Before they came we were normal people,
After they left we were hostages of horror.
I used to have a family,
All I have now is nothing.
- Mariam J.


The Terrifying Holocaust
Once we were happy children,
Now we are sad souls.
We used to be free birds,
Now we are beaten people.
Before they came we had a smile, Before they came we had a life,
After they left we had a frown, After they left we had no future.
I used to have a loving family,
All I have now is a broken heart.
- Siham


Once we lived as normal people,
Now we are trapped in a cage like working skeletons.
We used to be happy people,
Now we are beaten animals.
Before they came I had my clothes to be worn,
After they left I only had one.
I used to have a warm comfy bed,
Now all I have is a sheet on the floor.
- Mohamed C.


The Unknown
Darkness, shadows, an engine growls,
Smoke, then silence...
Clothes are rugged, disease has spread,
The sight of bones, I'd rather be dead.
Buried in snow, coughs and sneezes,
Weeping widows, beings stripped of dignity.
In the veins foreboding flows, a story only Auschwitz knows.
-Azaiha

Once we were like normal people,
Now we are like prisoners.
We used to be like normal people,
Now we are like criminals.
Before they came we were free like butterflies,
After they left our wings were ripped.
I used to have a nice bed,
But now all I have is straw.
- Baye

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Here is some more of our poetry:

Once we were normal, we had a normal life.
Now we are trapped like a lion with no roar.
We used to be human beings,
But now we are broken glass on the floor, ashes scattered around the fire.
Before they came we had things we loved,
After they left we had nothing but ourselves.
I used to have a warm house,
All I have now is nothing; no one to kiss me goodnight.
- Reeyana


Life of Death
Once we were normal and had a family,
Now we are treated as nothing.
We used to be something as humans.
Before they came we were loved and treated fairly,
After they left we will not forget what happened.
I used to have a life I thought would last a long time,
All I have now is hope and a soul that will be saved.
I was so happy, was I too happy?
- Zara


Once we had hopes, we enjoyed.
We lived as normal people and we had everything that we wanted.
Now we have nothing left and we are trapped like caged animals.
Before they came we were free and happy.
When they left they destroyed everything that we love.
- Shahid

Once we lived as innocent people,
Now we are no-one.
We used to be living humans,
Now we are pieces of meat.
Before they came we were as free as the wind,
After they left we were stuck in the eye of the Sun.
I used to have family that loved me,
Now I am surrounded by a skeleton army.
- Daniel


Today, I was covered in love.
Then, I was buried in sorrow.
Now, I have a death wish.
Then, I didn't worry about tomorrow.
Here, I'm lost.
Before, I was always found.
Now, pain and rain.
Then I was sane, an no one to blame.
History can't be changed, all I see through myself is a tunnel of disdain.
No point in living life; it will never be the same.
- Azaiha

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Some of us did some research about the history of the camps and why they were created. We have created a movie to share some of what we learned.

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Another installment of our poetry...

Once
Once I had dreams,
Now I have no hope.
Once I was a human being,
Now I'm a dying punchbag.
Once I lived for the day,
Now I think will the pain end?
Once I ran in empty fields,
Now I'm caged like in a zoo.
Once my mother loved me,
Now I watch her ashes fade.
Once...
- Kia

Our Dreams Were Ours
Once we lived a happy life doing things we loved.
Now we are trapped in a world without diversity.
We used to be loved,
Now we are empty souls.
Before they came we lived in peace,
After they left we had no hope.
I used to have everything,
All I have now is nothing.
Our dreams were crushed.
- Mustafa

Taken
Once we had our freedom, we flew around with our wings open.
Now our wings are closed, we are caged animals.
We used to be comfortable, now we are squashed.
Before they came we were free,
After they left there were none left, no, nothing,
We were taken, our rights were taken, our freedom was taken.
All I have now is, well, nothing.
- Anhaar

Once we had a future,
Now we see only death.
We used to have families,
Now we are alone.
Before they came we were free like the air around us,
After they left we were found as living skeletons.
I used to have lots of food and water,
All I have now is some bread and water.
Before I was a slave.
Now I am history.
- Abubakar

We were discriminated
We felt isolated
I was a nobody
That was what I was told
Once we were loved
Now we are hated
All I have is nothing
- Sumeya

Once we lived like normal people,
Now we are trapped in a cage.
We used to have human rights.
When we lived in Berlin we were loved,
But a few months the Nazis came into power.
They took us into a camp.
It said a holiday camp.
Some people fell for it but I didn't.
I wonder how it could be a holiday camp when I saw people starving to death.
When I saw a photo of Hitler I could smell death ahead.
- Musa