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Q&A with Ruth Barnett – A Kindertransport Child

03 July 2020

Usually, towards the end of the academic year, the History Department takes Year 10 Historians on a trip to the National Holocaust Centre in Newark. As part of their GCSE course pupils study Nazi persecution of the European Jews as well as other minority groups living under the Nazi regime. The centre has an excellent exhibition on Jewish persecution and they regularly host survivors who speak to school groups as well as the public about their experiences, as well as issues that are still prevalent in the world today. In lieu of this, the department organised for the pupils who study History in Year 11 and above a ‘virtual’ Q&A session with a survivor who works closely with the centre. Ruth Barnett, born in Berlin, 1935, was one of the children who found themselves transported to England in 1939 on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was a rescue mission organised by philanthropists who were concerned about the escalation of violence towards minority groups living in German occupied territory during the 1930s. Under the programme, nearly 10,000 Jewish children were sent to the United Kingdom to seek refuge. Often, they were the only surviving members of their families by the time the war came to an end in 1945. 
The session began with Ruth relaying her personal story and experience as a Kindertransport child, before commenting on how her experiences affected her life and her world views. The second half of the session was open to our pupils to ask their questions. A variety of topics were touched upon – many of which are still highly topical today – including refugees, sexism, racism, and genocide. The questions our pupils asked elicited highly interesting responses: as a German refugee growing up in England, hearing Ruth’s opinions was thought provoking and provided an excellent enrichment opportunity for all those who took part.  We would like to extend our thanks to the Holocaust Centre for providing us with the opportunity to meet Ruth, and to Ruth herself for sharing her inspiring story with us. After the session, Ruth emailed me to say: ‘I am so impressed by the participants' questions and serious thinking - it bodes for a better future.’ This made me very proud: well done to all who took part. 
Please see below for some testimonies of some of the girls who took part:
‘Ruth's story was captivating and she spoke about her experiences and thoughts in such an engaging way. She is clearly an incredible person, and her desire for the unity of humankind and for people to see beyond our differences is a cause we should all strive for.’ Abigail T, Year 10

“Ruth had an inspiring story and refreshing perspective on life. Her views on racism, sexism, the refugee crisis and other 21st century issues that affect our lives was not only motivating but also extremely thought-provoking.” Davina M, Year 13

‘It was a truly amazing experience that I’m sure left many of us, experiencing a range of emotions ranging from anger to sadness to disbelief. Ms Barnett answered every question clearly and with the utmost detail, which was what made this event really poignant. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to communicate with such a strong and inspirational woman. I think we all will take away many values and lessons from this event; mine is definitely that we must stand up for what we believe in and stand tall in the face of adversity.’  –Nikita B, Year 10

If you are interested in the story above, this link takes you to a series of videos where you can see Ruth discussing her story: https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/ruth-barnett-interview/

Miss Glover (Head of History)
 

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