Northampton School for Boys


History Club Remembers the Holocaust 2017

Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 thbs

For the past term and a half, the History club have been learning about the Holocaust with the aim of creating some form of memorial for Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January.

Initially we looked at some survivor testimonies, with Sixth Form students leading discussions with the younger boys. Many questions came out of these discussions; most common was the simple response – why?

So we delved deeper and looked at the process of persecution that Jews and other minority groups went through; from slanderous words during the Nazi’s early campaigns, to state sponsored prejudicial propaganda, the Nuremburg Laws, Ghettos and finally the Death Camps. However, the question of “why?” still remained.

We studied different Holocaust memorials around the world, looking at each one and discussing what they might symbolise as well as which ones stood out or connected with us the most. Still the question of “why?” dominated our session. It was during this particular meeting that one of the boys noticed a poster on my classroom wall with the George Santayana quote “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” The discussion began to change from “why?” to “this cannot happen again.” It was at this point that four boys in Year 8 were inspired to write a letter to the Headmaster. They explained to Mr Bernard what they had been learning about, why it had affected them so much and how NSB should recognise this period of history and do its part to stop such intolerance from existing ever again and he agreed.

Throughout the last term, the maturity and empathy displayed by all involved has been both surprising and heartening. All of the students have shown a passionate stance on the need to be accepting of those who are different, and most of all to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. At NSB all students are encouraged to develop their social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness and to uphold certain core values.

I have taught the Holocaust for several years, visited concentration camps and heard first-hand survivor testimony but was still bowled over by the History Club and their response to this work, showing the best of what this school has to offer; mature, empathetic young men who passionately believe in caring about their fellow human beings.

Thanks to their fervent need to do something for Holocaust Memorial Day, all year groups this week have had a special assembly about the Holocaust featuring a superbly made video by Charlie Byfield (Year 8). Tom Vaughan, Theo Broxton, Jay Dhir and Lewis Howes (Year 8) repeated the words they spoke in their moving request to Mr Bernard and a minute’s silence was held in remembrance.

While tragically the question of “why?” will never be fully answered, the message all year groups have been left with is that it is most important for their generation to remember, to understand and ensure that they create a world filled with tolerance, hope and above all, acceptance in order to help prevent such atrocities happening again.

Miss H Kennedy KS3 Co-ordinator, History