WWII Survivors’ Journey

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day the YJB History Department was privileged to host a talk given by two survivors of Nazi oppression in the 1930’s. Gisela Feldman and Sonia Sternberg visited the school on 27th January. Students of History and R.E in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 were able to hear of their experiences. The talk was also attended by 80 students from St. David’s College.

The story of the two sisters was a fascinating and painful one. They were separated from their father in the 1930’s as he had a Polish passport and was sent back there. They never saw him again. In 1939 the remaining family were able to book a passage on the S.S St Louis bound for Cuba with about 900 other passengers. When they arrived they were turned away by the Cuban authorities and the USA. The ship headed back to Europe. Gisela, Sonia and their mother were amongst the lucky ones who were given safe refuge in Britain. However, about three quarters were taken in by Belgium, France and the Netherlands. They would become victims of the Nazi racial policies of deportation and extermination as Western Europe was invaded and occupied.

They were given a warm welcome by our students who listened attentively throughout. The talk was followed by a question and answer session. Our students participated with some thoughtful and intelligent questions. The experience will be one which all who attended will remember.

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