HORRORS of the Holocaust were brought home to pupils at a South Yorkshire school by a survivor of Auschwitz who lost her father and boyfriend in the death camps.
Iby Knill, now 87, told her story to 13 and 14-year-olds at Barnsley’s Willowgarth High School following an invitation from RE teacher Donna Carruthers.
In a session lasting for an hour and three quarters, Iby described how she was sent to the Polish concentration camp complex as a teenager and how she survived.
Donna said it was the first time the school had tackled the subject of the Holocaust in such a way.
“In Barnsley we do see the influence of the BNP and we do sometimes see some racial antagonism in school,” Donna said.
“When we tell the students about the Holocaust, most of them see it as something way in the past that doesn’t affect them. So I got in touch with the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association and they put us in touch with Iby.”
Iby talked to all of Year 9 without notes, and afterwards answered all their questions.
“She was really excellent and her account came with no holds barred. She told us about twins she knew who were experimented on by the ‘Angel of Death’ Josef Mengele,” Donna said.
“The students wanted to know why the prisoners didn’t just rise up in revolt like in Egypt and Iby had to explain why that would never have been possible.
“I think the event made a big impact on them and it has produced both art work and written work. It is definitely something we would do again,” Donna added.
Iby grew up in Bratislava, then the capital of Czechoslovakia, and went to a German grammar school until she was excluded for being Jewish.
After fleeing her homeland for Hungary to escape being sent to the Eastern Front as a prostitute, she was eventually captured by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz in 1944.
She now lives in Leeds and works with the Leeds-based Association charity, set up in 1996, to deliver school talks.