Memorial day

Pupils from Wiliamwood high school: Adrian, Hamza, Fraser, Elisha and Lorna.
Pupils from Wiliamwood high school: Adrian, Hamza, Fraser, Elisha and Lorna.

PUPILS from across Glasgow and East Renfrewshire will this week join officials from both councils to honour the victims of the Holocaust.

National Holocaust memorial day is tomorrow (January 27), and schools have been issued with an education pack, called Speak Up, Speak Out, by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

Pupils from Glasgow schools will come together for an event at city chambers tomorrow, with three senior students from Bellahouston Academy hosting and a group from Shawlands Academy performing a short piece of drama.

The young people will then hear from guest George Brady, whose sister Hanna perished in the Auschwitz gas chamber, as well as stories of survivors settling in Glasgow.

Bailie Jean McFadden, executive member for education, commented: “It’s important that the stories of the Holocaust survivors are heard and remembered.

“Our young people should not be shielded from the atrocities of what took place.

“Learning about discrimination and how this has no place in our society is firmly embedded in the school curriculum and we will all hopefully learn from the mistakes of the past”.

The East Renfrewshire memorial service, taking place on Monday at Eastwood park theatre, will feature further talks and a short drama, as well as a presentation from Eastwood high school students Jack Wylie and Gemma Sichi on their recent trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

All seven East Renfrewshire high schools will have pupils presenting one of seven commitments — pledges based on what they’ve learned about current-day genocide and persecution — and Eastwood pupil Briony Allan will read the poem First They Came, by pastor Martin Niemoller.

East Renfrewshire council leader Jim Fletcher commented: “Holocaust memorial day provides each of us with an opportunity to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.

“We share the memory of the millions who have been lost in the atrocities of the past, in order to challenge hatred and persecution today.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure we don’t see history repeat itself”.

The Lessons from Auschwitz programme, run by the Holocaust Educational Trust each year, has been given the green light for further funding from the Scottish government in 2012.

The scheme allows two children from every Scottish high school the chance to visit the Polish site for a day, as well as attending seminars by camp survivors.

The Extra accompanied southside students on a trip to Auschwitz in November.

Holyrood secondary pupil Sarah Gillespie (17) said: “Being here is hard to understand – I don’t know how to describe it to someone who hasn’t been here, because I find it hard to come to terms with it myself”.

Waleed Pirzada (17), from Bellahouston Academy, added: “If people at home ask me what it’s like, I say they have to see it themselves to experience everything ”.