This is an extract from the history of the High School which I have been writing recently:
Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29th and 30th 2005
Organised by the Reverend Stefan Krzeminski, over the course of two days, the whole of Year 9 had the privilege of visiting what is now the National Holocaust Centre near Ollerton in north Nottinghamshire.
In past years the boys had been able to listen to the testimony of Arek Hersh, but on this occasion the speaker was Josef Perl ….
“It was not long before the train stopped and the front wagons pulled up at a platform. The people inside, who had clearly come directly from their homes, were marched away and disappeared down some steps straight to the gas chambers. We were in Auschwitz.
The doors of our wagons were unlocked and we had to jump down. There was a smartly dressed commandant deciding who would live and who would die.
Waving his riding crop, he indicated “links oder recht” (left or right) with a casual flick of the wrist. Those he sent to the left (over 70 per cent) went immediately to the gas chambers, those to the right had been selected, either for work or for experimentation.
It was Dr Mengele.”
I myself well remember hearing this chilling story of an encounter with the Angel of Death. At lunch, I was able to ask the question about concentration camps which had burned in my mind for years, namely, “Why, if you were all going to die anyway, didn’t you fight back and kill the Germans?”
Mr Perl answered my question and then asked me that, as a teacher, I should tell as many people as possible exactly what had happened in the Holocaust, so that it could never happen again.
I have never forgotten Josef Perl, or his request. Once again, therefore, I am happy, if that is the word, to do exactly as he asked.