Holocaust survivor delivers a powerful lesson on tolerance at St Albans school

L-R Janine Webber from the Holocaust Educational Trust, head Elizabeth Hitch and year 9 pupils

L-R Janine Webber from the Holocaust Educational Trust, head Elizabeth Hitch and year 9 pupils - Credit: Archant

Pupils at a St Albans secondary school were given a strong message about the importance of tolerance during a visit from a Holocaust survivor with close links to their headteacher.

Janine Webber, 83, spoke with Year 9 students at Beaumont School, Oakwood Drive, recently, and answered questions about the Second World War.

According to the Holocaust Educational Trust, Janine was born in Lwów in Poland – now L’viv, Ukraine, in 1932. After Germany invaded the former USSR in 1941, she and her family had to leave their apartment and move into an area outside of the town, in preparation for the establishment of a ghetto.

They were allocated one room in a house for the whole family to live in. On the day that they heard a German raid was coming, Janine, her brother and mother went into a hiding place - a hole her parents had dug under the wardrobe. But the Nazis discovered other members of Janine’s family hiding in the loft, and her father was shot.

Spellbound pupils asked Janine her views on justice and punishment, and whether or not she had forgiven those who had persecuted her and her family.

She spoke about tolerance of each other as human beings, of people who are different to us, other cultures and religions.

Headteacher Elizabeth Hitch said: “Janine is very special to us at Beaumont as indeed she is very special to me, being my stepmother for the last 12 years. She is an amazing lady, 83 years old and still travelling the country independently to give such an important message to our schools. I am immensely proud of her.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter