On Thursday 21st April, Year 9 boys from Salesian College Farnborough took part in a day retreat on the theme of the Holocaust and heard the testimony of a Holocaust survivor.
After an opening liturgy in the College Chapel, the 100 boys were divided into 6 groups and spent the morning in workshops, helping them to prepare for the afternoon's speaker.
Rudi Oppenheimer, now 84, was eight years old at the outbreak of World War Two. He spoke clearly and engagingly for 70 minutes, giving a fascinating account of his life before and after the invasion of Holland by the Nazis. With the aid of photographs he described the happiness and peace of his early childhood, shattered by the restrictions imposed on the Jews and the deportation of his family to a transit camp and eventually to Bergen-Belsen. He then answered questions from the boys for a further 30 minutes.
Several staff and older students were able to attend part of the talk; these included two Year 12 students who had taken part in the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' project and had shared their experiences with the Year 9 boys during History lessons.
The day ended with a short closing liturgy in the College Chapel, including an Act of Commitment to learn from the lessons of history and to stand up for those who are oppressed in our world today.
Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, College Chaplain