More than 15,000 pupils from the Star Academies 28 schools took part in activities to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. 

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day was “Stand Together” which was honoured by the pupils’ activities to counter prejudice and discrimination. 

Pupils took part in special ceremonies, recited poetry and spoke with Holocaust survivors who shared their devastating testimonies. 

A group of Year 8 pupils from Eden Boys’ School, Preston were deeply affected by their visit to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.

The pupils found that their experience at the memorial helped to bring home the full reality of the atrocities that took place more than 75 years ago.  

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Mohammed Arif Patel, a Year 8 pupil at Eden Boys’ School Preston said: “One of the first things that hit me when we arrived in Germany was how cold it was. 

“I was wearing a warm coat, hat and gloves. The thought of being in a camp, with snow blowing all around, with no heat or clothing, hungry and without my family was overwhelming. 

“The Memorial left me feeling very numb and saddened. It’s hard to understand how such evil atrocities could have happened in Europe 75 years ago.  

“But at the same time, it also gave me some comfort that the world is working hard to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

“We must stand up and be accountable to ensure that genocide is left in the past.  If we don’t learn from the mistakes made in history we will never move on. 

“As humans we should have a sense of love and care for each other despite any differences between us.”

The pupils at Eden Girls’ School, Slough took part in a webinar with Holocaust survivor, Susan Pollock. 

The brave grandmother of six was kidnapped by the Nazis from her home in Hungary alongside her mother and brother when she was just 13-years-old. 

They arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp, where Susan’s mother was immediately sent to her death in the gas chambers. 

Mrs Pollock later testified that she was so dehumanised by her experience, she was unable to cry when she finally discovered her mother’s fate. 

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, said: “Each year at Star Academies we pay tribute to the millions who lost their lives to genocide on Holocaust Memorial Day.

“By teaching our pupils about the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust and other genocides, we can help to ensure that we do not have to experience such dark times again. 

“We want our pupils to remember the victims so they are able to build a more compassionate and tolerant society where there is no room for prejudice and discrimination.  

“Our actions now cannot change the past, but by learning lessons from those tragic times we can help to build a better future.”