St Helens students hears first-hand account of the Holocaust

Youngsters listen to speakers during the Holocaust talk
Youngsters listen to speakers during the Holocaust talk

Students from a local college heard first hand about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Year 11 students from Rainford High Technology invited Ruth Barnett, as part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

The testimony was followed by a question and answer session to enable students to better their understanding of the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth. The visit is part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s extensive all year round Outreach Programme, which is available to schools across the UK.

Ian Young, principle of Rainford High Technology College, said: “It is a privilege for us to welcome Ruth Barnett to our school and her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced.

“wWe are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Ruth’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust added: “The Holocaust Educational Trust educates and engages students from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor. Ruth’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing her testimony, students will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.

“At the Trust, we impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”

About Ruth Barnett

Ruth was born Ruth Michaelis in 1935 in Berlin, Germany. In 1939, aged four, Ruth and her seven year old brother arrived in England on the Kindertransport.

Over the next 10 years, Ruth and her brother lived with three foster families and in a hostel. Her father, who was Jewish, escaped to Shanghai and her mother, who was not Jewish, remained in Germany in hiding until 1945. Ruth’s mother had to go into hiding in 1943 because she had taken part in the Rosenstrasse protest in Central Berlin. About 6,000 non-Jewish women who were married to Jewish men took part in this protest which succeeded in the release of their

Jewish husbands from prisons and concentration camps. Most of the men went on to survive the war.

In 1947, Ruth’s father returned to Germany and wanted Ruth to go and live with him. She wanted to stay in England but was returned against her will in 1949 through a court order served by her father.

After leaving university, Ruth married her Jewish boyfriend and converted to Judaism. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2008, and have three children and two grandchildren. Ruth was a secondary school teacher for 19 years and a psychotherapist for 28 years.