14 July 2023

Holocaust survivors give poignant talk to pupils

As part of our ongoing programme of lectures and talks that enhance the curriculum of learning, our Year 9 and Lower Sixth students were fortunate to have the opportunity to hear two holocaust survivors share their stories.

Ruth Barnett MBE and Freddy Berdach visited the School on Tuesday 23rd May and Thursday 22nd June respectively and everyone in attendance left deeply touched and in great awe of their bravery during such a difficult time. We thank both Freddy and Ruth for sharing their first-hand experiences of their lives through an important part of history.

About Freddy Berdach

Freddy Berdach, who was born in 1930 in Vienna, faced upheaval during the Anschluss in March 1938. Expelled from school as a Jew, Freddy’s family sought refuge with his grandparents to move away from the violence and arrests to improve their life before moving to Zurich later in the year. In December 1938, Freddy moved again to England with foster families as antisemitism was spreading across Europe. He finally met his future wife, Vanda, at Kingsbury Synagogue youth club before marrying in 1955. They now have three daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

About Ruth Barnett

Ruth Barnett (née Michaelis) was born in 1935 in Berlin, Germany. In 1939, Ruth, aged four, and her older brother sought refuge in Britain through the Kindertransport program. They lived with three foster families and resided in a hostel for the next decade. In 1949, Ruth was repatriated to Germany against her will and by court order. Struggling with the loss of familiarity and home, she found the experience terrifying. Within a year, Ruth returned to Britain and visited her parents during the school holidays. After university, Ruth married her Jewish partner and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2008. They now have three children and two grandchildren. Ruth dedicated 19 years to teaching in secondary schools, served as a psychotherapist for 28 years and continues to inspire others with her experience.

[Reference: Holocaust Education Trust]