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Brave and thought-provoking testimony from Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Susie Barnett gave an interesting and enlightening talk to History students about her family’s life in pre-war Germany and how they all managed to escape – but ultimately paid the price as a family.

Susie was born in Hamburg, the youngest child of four. Her father was imprisoned in a concentration camp and her one brother and two sisters were taken separately to England on kinder-transport.

Baby Susie was left with her mother in Nazi Germany and they only managed to escape the horrors of the Holocaust due to a ‘miracle’ when a caring couple from London managed to help them move to England.

Although both her parents and the four children survived, they never lived together again as a family and Susie said this was damaging to them all, especially to her, because she spent most of her childhood in children’s homes or foster homes.

In later years, Susie became a teacher and has since married and has a son, a daughter and four grandchildren. She said she has now found true happiness and realises how good family life can be after an unhappy childhood.

Susie’s presentation, organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, was followed by a question and answer session where students were able to explore the Holocaust in more depth.

Student Abiann Lewis said: “Susie’s openness and bravery was admirable. I have mostly experienced history from textbooks, which is why the talk was exceptional because she combined historical context with personal experiences. Her stories made you feel as if you knew the people, so the victims of the Holocaust became more than just statistics.

“It was a great experience to hear first-hand of the horrors that families went through and it was thought-provoking and enlightening.”

Penny Jackson, History Course Leader at Havering Sixth Form College, said: “It was a privilege for us to welcome Susie and listen to her inspiring talk. I hope that by hearing her testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and ensure that it is never forgotten.”