History News

 Sydney Jewish Museum Visit

On Sunday 28 October, 11 girls from Year 9 Elective History took part in an excursion to the Sydney Jewish Museum.

The day started off with a tour of the newly renovated museum. Hearing from the dedicated volunteers about their own stories as well as those in the museum proved a moving experience for the girls. Through exploring archival footage of the ghettos, the death camps, as well as remnants of children’s clothing and personal items, the girls developed a deep sense of empathy for the tragic events of the Holocaust. A particularly powerful way our tour guide asked the girls to remember the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust was by examining the series of photos in the children’s memorial. The guide challenged the girls to focus simply on one name. She reminded us that the Holocaust, whilst talked about in terms of statistics, is also an event filled with personal stories and experiences. “It should be our responsibility that history shouldn’t forget these people”, our guide said. When I challenged my students in class a week later to share their experiences with the other girls, they remembered this line explicitly, and spoke about the role that studying history has in remembering these individual stories.

After our guided tour, the students were fortunate to hear the harrowing testimony of Judith an 84 year old Holocaust survivor from Hungary. Whilst only being around the age of nine at the time, and despite her memories being fragmented, Judith spoke with sincerity and thoughtfulness. She told of the Nazi occupation of Hungary towards the end of the war and how her mother, despite all odds stacked against her, helped Judith escape the newly established ghetto in Budapest, and later (by pretending she was pregnant), also escaped herself. She told us of reuniting with her father who had served in the military in Russia and how by absolute chance he happened to be on the train that had stopped right where Judith and an old family friend had been passing through in 1947. The girls sat in awe as they heard how, despite adversity, Judith and her parents survived the Holocaust, but how so many extended family members lost their lives. We were humbled by her passion for telling her story and left feeling determined to not let her story be lost over time. Through recalling and evoking this deep sense of empathy and by striving to encourage further study, we play our own role in keeping this history alive.

In all, the girls who had the opportunity to join Mr Marco Scali and myself, treasured this valuable and enriching educational and personal experience.

 

Ms Isabelle Tilsley

Teacher of History