Kingsmead students were honoured to receive a visit from Ruth Barnett, who along with her daughter Tania came to talk to Y10 and some year 12 & 13 students about what life was like for her as a child growing up through World War 2 as an evacuee from Germany to England to escape the horrors of war in her own country.
Using photographs from her childhood Ruth told the story of her family, from a childhood in Berlin, across to England on a Kindertransport journey, through to her life now. She showed pictures of some of the quiet heroes who organised the Kindertransport trains, who saved so many young lives.
Ruth asked students what they pictured when they heard the word “Holocaust”, or the phrase “Holocaust Survivor”. Most students probably only thought of “Camp Survivor”, and the pictures they saw were like that on the front cover of “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” that many have read in school.
As Ruth explained, “The Holocaust” affected everyone, not just the Jewish families. Anyone living through such horror becomes dehumanised in some way. The perpetrators, the dissenters, and especially those that passively stood by while things were going on all around them could not escape the effects.
Ruth gave our students a lot of things to think about and consider. She asked them what they understood about the Holocaust, the Quakers, passivism and violence. She wanted them to imagine a world where people did not escalate violence by reacting with further violence. Ruth asked our students to reflect on where they stood in life, and where they could really make a difference.
Ruth and Tania spent time in the afternoon taking further questions from a small group of students. Ruth also kindly donated a copy of each of the 5 books she has written to our school library. Any students wishing to borrow them should speak to Mrs Harrison.
The students really valued having the opportunity to listen and speak to Ruth and Tania, and everyone at Kingsmead would like to thank Ruth and Tania for visiting the school and giving such a fantastic experience to our students.