History News

Sydney Jewish Museum Visit

On Sunday the 30th of October, 30 girls from Year 9 Elective History and Year 10 History took part in an excursion to the Sydney Jewish Museum. The day started with a tour of two special exhibitions that have been newly opened in the museum. The first was an exhibition of letters that were written by Jews during the years of the Holocaust. The museum has an abundance of this type of correspondence in their archives and has selected a small cross-section of letters which highlight how feelings and emotions of Jewish people changed between the years of 1933 and 1945. The second special exhibition was on the story of the Frank family during the Holocaust- specifically, Anne Frank. Many of the girls had some understanding of this story from popular culture, but the exhibition clarified the exact movements of the Frank family during the Holocaust and the tragic end Anne Frank faced in Bergen-Belsen after her family was captured by the Nazis in Amsterdam.

In the second half of our visit, the girls were privileged to hear the testimony of one of Australia’s oldest Holocaust survivors, Eddie Jaku. Eddie’s story is extraordinary and captivated the girls from start to finish. A teenager living in Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933, Eddie spent the years after this moving around Europe in an attempt to escape Nazi persecution. Despite his rovings, Eddie was sent to Buchenwald in 1939 (escaped 1940), captured in France in 1941 and sent on a train to Auschwitz (which he escaped from at Strasbourg Station on the French border), captured (with his family) in Belgium in 1944 and sent to Auschwitz (this time he did not escape. Both of his parents were killed on arrival to Auschwitz- he and his sister were separated, but both survived), and finally sent to Buchenwald again at the end of the war where he escaped the death march as the Nazis desperately tried to move prisoners. This is only a very small snapshot into his miraculous story of survival. The following are reflections from some of the girls who witnessed Eddie’s story:

“It was a true honour to hear Eddie’s story. He told us his very emotional and amazing journey which included him going to four concentration camps, living in a cave for two months in 1945, eating slugs and snails and his parents passing away in Auschwitz. After enduring all of these hardships Eddie’s main message that he wanted us to get out of his testimony was to “have friends who care, love to share and heath to spare”. Overall, I will remember Eddie’s story for the rest of my life. His testimony helped me put my life into perspective and appreciate my family and friends.”  Anna Mossie, Year 9

“It’d be easy to say that Eddie’s words made me angry, or sad or feel great pity, however this was not the aim of for his story. Eddie’s speech, although sad, was a great base for how we should live our lives. His words really made me think about how I’m living my life today. He taught me, and I’m sure many others, that hate is the basis of destruction and in order to combat what could bring us back to similar times today, we must embrace our education. He told us to learn for you never will know what comes in handy in life. A quote that will stay with me is “Friends who care, health to spare and love to share”.  Elly Wytenburg, Year 9

“Eddie’s story was the first survival story I had heard, and was also the first motivational speech I had ever listened to, but it is not one I will forget. He went through incredible trauma, witnessing and experiencing things which I could never even fathom, but his positivity is so inspiring that I found I left with a greater appreciation for my life, and a new friend.”  Abigail Ardron,  Year 10

“Regardless of all the traumatic events that happened in Eddie’s life, he is the most humble and loving man I have met. Incapable of feeling hatred towards anyone, including the Nazis, he portrays the most noble characteristics asking for everyone to be kind to each other no matter what.”  Hilary Middlebrook, Year 10

“Hearing about Eddie’s experiences really puts our lives in perspective. The fact that he remains happy and optimistic despite the suffering he has endured is truly inspiring.”  Dominica Leaver, Year 10

 

Mr Marco Scali

Head of History