Holocaust survivor’s personal testimony to Collyer’s students

Hannah Lewis with Collyer's student Louisa Petts. Picture by Alex White, Collyer's student reporter
Hannah Lewis with Collyer's student Louisa Petts. Picture by Alex White, Collyer's student reporter

Last week over 100 students and staff from Collyer’s heard a personal testimony from Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis, as part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust’s all year round Outreach Programme, which is available to schools and colleges across the UK.

At the age of 6 Hannah was taken from her Polish village to a German Nazi Concentration Camp in occupied eastern Poland, where she survived until the end of the war.

Hannah moved to England in 1949 and now shares her testimony to educate today’s generation and help them understand the impact the Holocaust had on the world.

Ann Mutluer, a Faculty Head and Subject Leader for History at Collyer’s said: “The demand for speakers around Holocaust Memorial day is very high, so we have been very lucky to get a speaker not just this year, but in previous years too.”

Hannah Lewis was extremely impressed and moved by the large number of students who attended her talk and she also showed photos of her family affected by the Holocaust.

Louisa Petts, who is studying History at Collyer’s said: “I found Mrs Lewis’s talk extremely emotional, as it gave us a real life insight into what the Holocaust was like for those involved. It is something that nowadays we struggle to imagine, yet hearing what Mrs Lewis went through reminded us that it was a real event that happened to millions of people who were unfairly treated due to their religion, race or disabilities.’

Hannah Murray, who is also studying History, said: “Mrs Lewis reminded us in her talk of how important it was to both share and listen to testimonies from Holocaust survivors.”

After Hannah Lewis’ testimony, a question and answer session enabled students to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and explore its lessons in more depth.

Ann MutIuer said: “It is a credit to the students that through their knowledgeable discussions and question and answer sessions at Collyer’s we continue to get testimonies from Holocaust survivors. Hannah Lewis’s testimony was terribly moving.”

Student Maddie Hughes added: “We are the last generation to see survivors of the Holocaust and hear eye witness testimonies from them. That is why, as Mrs Lewis said during her testimony, it is so important for Holocaust survivors to share their experiences, so we are able to educate future generations about the impact of the Holocaust.’

Dr Jackie Johnston, Collyer’s Principal said: “It was a privilege for us to welcome Hannah Lewis and we are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit. We hope that by hearing the testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives. For more information about the Holocaust Educational Trust please visit www.het.org.uk”

Report and picture contributed by Alex White, Collyer’s student reporter.