Ilford youngsters listen to Holocaust memories

PUPILS at Uphall Primary school were given the chance to meet a man who escaped the Holocaust – knowing they could be the last generation to do so.

Hermann Hirschberger visited the school in Uphall Road, Ilford, along with Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, to educate children with first hand experience on the horrors of racism.

The 84-year-old spoke to children about some of his experiences in Germany, his separation from his parents when the war broke out and ultimately describing their death as “murder”, at the hand of Nazis.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, who was also at the talk, later said: “The lessons the students have learned from this will undoubtedly enable them to be better citizens both now and in the future.”

Alison Gilligan, phase leader of years five and six, said the children had been touched by the visit.

“We explained to them that he was living history and although they can search for information on the internet and read books, it does not compare to meeting someone who has first-hand experience.

“They were really captivated by his story.

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“Today they wrote him thank you letters and have said they are going to write him Christmas cards.” She added.

Mr Hirschberger was born in Germany in 1926, in a town which had a population of 250,000 – of which only 2,500 people were Jewish.

He was separated from his parents in 1938 due to the imminent onset of the war, and sent to a hostel in Margate with his brother, where they waited for their parents to join them.

However, their parents were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942, when the war broke out, where they were both killed.