A man who was taken to a Nazi concentration camp at the age of five has visited Loughborough College to share his memories.
Dr Martin Stern described his experiences during the campaign of persecution and extermination which led to the death of six million Jews and became known as the Holocaust.
Loughborough College Sixth Form students heard about the impact on Martin and his family when citizens from Germany and the countries it invaded were imprisoned and murdered on the basis of skin colour; disability; sexual orientation; ethnicity; religious belief or political affiliation.
Martin’s parents went into hiding in 1938, the year he was born, after fleeing to Holland from Germany - at that time it was illegal for a German woman to marry a Jewish man. But Martin’s father was caught by German soldiers and sent to Auschwitz – later dying, in 1945.
After Martin’s mother died giving birth to his younger sister, the two children were picked up by Dutch police and sent to Terezin, a ghetto town in the Czech Republic which had been converted into a concentration camp. Fifteen thousand children entered, but less then one per cent survived.
Martin and his sister survived because they were looked after by a Dutch woman who was allowed to do so because her father had killed two German soldiers – but who still took massive risks for the two children, stealing food when discovery could have led to her being shot.
After moving from two countries, living with five different families and going to five schools, Martin eventually qualified as a doctor and settled in the UK, in Leicester.
Loughborough College history tutor Robert Fieldsend said: “We were privileged to hear Martin’s testimony. Our students were given a fascinating insight into his experiences of survival and it clearly had a huge impact on them.
“Despite his young age at the time of his incarceration, Martin’s recollections of that time are vivid.
“The students asked lots of questions about Martin’s treatment then and his perspective on events now, many decades later.
“Hearing Martin’s experiences first hand delivered a really powerful message regarding the dangers that can arise from a lack of tolerance.
“Students can compare extremism in politics then to what they are seeing in news reports now, where the divisive use of hatred, fear and violence can lead.
Loughborough College Art students Ethan Nicholls and Edward Houlden took photographs during the visit.
Pictured: Loughborough College students with (centre left) Robert Fieldsend and (centre right) Dr Martin Stern
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