Our Year 9 students were privileged recently to experience a presentation by Janine Webber, a Holocaust survivor who visits schools as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust. Janine is a remarkable 85 year old lady who made the trip from London on the train, only one day after her visit to a school in Bristol!
Janine was born in Lvov in Poland in 1932 so she was a young girl when the Nazis occupied her home town and her family was forced into the ghetto. She escaped from the ghetto and spent most of the war in hiding with various non-Jewish Polish people. For one period of almost a year she lived in a hidden hole in the ground along with 12 other people without room to even stand up. Her father, mother and brother were all murdered by the SS. After the war, Janine was reunited with her Aunt and they settled in Paris. In 1956 she moved to London to improve her English, where she met and married her husband.
Janine’s presentation held our students spellbound, and many found it hard to believe that the lively, funny lady talking to them had lived through such a dreadful experience. After speaking for nearly an hour she answered questions from the audience for another 30 minutes. It is worth mentioning that the range and thoughtfulness of the questions was excellent, showing great empathy and maturity.
This was a powerful experience for our students at JMHS and we are truly grateful to Janine for visiting our school and providing this talk.