Tales of the Holocaust

Posted on: 15 March 2022 in 2021 posts

Photo of Eric Cohen at the University.

On the morning of the 8th of March 2022, guest speaker Eric Cohen delivered two talks about the Shoah and the personal ramifications it has had for him. Since retiring from his job as a head teacher, Eric has dedicated his life to educating the next generation about the Holocaust and spreading peace and tolerance.

Eric gave a brief introduction to Nazi Germany and how events progressed to the mass genocide of 6 million Jews, this really put into perspective the sheer number of people affected by the despicable acts of other humans. Mr Cohen contextualised the Holocaust effectively, showing us the yellow star of David that was worn by his father and discussing the dehumanisation of the Jewish people across Europe.

After this introduction, Eric shared the personal side of the holocaust, the reason why he was stood in front of us informing the next generations across the country (at primary schools and high schools as well). When looking at his family tree, it was clear to see how his family was fractured by the events, describing the death of his grandparents, who he unfortunately was not able to meet, who were persecuted by the Nazis and were unable to get a visa to leave Vienna. Particularly striking was the story of Nazi soldiers entering the family flat to take whatever possessions they wanted to, when his uncle Bruno, a professional boxer, stepped in to defend his family, striking the helmet of one Shabbat candlestick, he was struck by the soldier which left him blind. Eric brought along the actual candlestick his uncle had used and showed us all the dent which was left behind – the physical representation of what his family had suffered through was compelling. His family was left scattered around the world, with him and his mother in England, uncles and aunties in Shanghai and Israel, and his father eventually settling in Australia with Eric’s brother.

Eric Cohen with a class of our current German Students

The final message was one of peace, tolerance, and respect, very fitting for the current situation we find ourselves in. Eric’s outlook on life is inspirational, rather than allowing the actions of Hitler and the Nazis to define and affect him, he is determined to live his life to the full and dedicate himself to educating others in the hope that we never encounter another situation of this nature.

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