Borders youngsters learn about horrors of Holocaust

Hawick schoolchildren at a Holocaust memorial event held at Hawick Library.
Hawick schoolchildren at a Holocaust memorial event held at Hawick Library.

The horrors of the Holocaust were brought into sharp focus for 30 youngsters from Hawick High School last week.

As part of VisitScotland’s year of young people, a remembrance event was held at Hawick Library last Friday ahead of National Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday.

Jedburgh Grammar School students Alexander Edwards and Lauren Reilly at a Holocaust memorial event held at Hawick Library.

Jedburgh Grammar School students Alexander Edwards and Lauren Reilly at a Holocaust memorial event held at Hawick Library.

Two youngsters were among the speakers, and they talked about the impression a visit to the Nazis’ Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland had made on them.

Lauren Reilly, an S6 pupil at Jedburgh Grammar School, said: “I was more affected by the Auschwitz visit on my return home, noting the stark contrast between my privileged life and the lives of the Auschwitz inmates. It teaches you to not take anything for granted and not to complain.”

Alexander Edwards, an S5 pupil at Jedburgh Grammar, added: “It was more the individualisation of folk rather than the big numbers that hit me the hardest, seeing tiny baby shoes in the displays and personalised suitcases of those who had been hopeful of going home.”

After their presentations, Max Debono-de-Laurentis, an expert in Jewish studies, gave a talk entitled Children of the Holocaust, connecting with his young audience by highlighting the catastrophic effect of the Second World War genocide on the lives of Jewish children in the 1940s.

Assistant librarian Julia Cawthorn, one of the event’s organisers, said: “The talks had an amazing impact on the young audience, who were engaged throughout and left universally declaring their inspiration to visit Auschwitz themselves when they are in S5/6.

“They also loudly declared that genocide of any level should never happen in their futures.”