Students and staff at St Conleth’s Community College were honoured and privileged when Tomi Reichental, holocaust survivor, accepted an invitation from LCA students and their teacher, Ms Lane, to talk about his experience growing up as a Slovakian Jew during the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Tomi who spoke on Tuesday, March 13 painted a poignant picture of the abuse and ill-treatment of Jews during this time.
As a child he was forced to wear a yellow star at all times, denoting that he was Jewish.
“At school, he was intimidated, bullied and beaten by other children, purely because of his ethnic origins,” said school PRO Jo Doyle.
“Tomi and his family were arrested by the Nazis and taken in cattle trucks, without food, water or sanitation to Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp.
“Conditions there were inhumane with inmates suffering daily brutality, starvation and dehumanisation. He recalled his grandmother’s body being dumped on a mound of corpses outside the huts where he and the other children played, amidst the unbearable stench of decomposing corpses.”
He reminded the students that it is all too easy in harsh, economic times to find a scapegoat or to pick on other nationalities to blame for our failing economy.
“In Nazi Germany, the consequences of doing this proved fatal for 6 million Jews,” she said. “He spoke of the danger of denying the holocaust and stressed that it was something which must never happen again.”
Hearing Tomi Reichental’s life story was described as ‘an enriching learning experience for all age groups in the audience’.
The presentation ended with a very engaging question and answer session where students were anxious to understand both the historical and personal context of Tomi Reichental’s life story.
Bergen-Belsen was a Nazi concentration camp in northwestern Germany, and in 1943 it became a concentration camp on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas.an estimated 50,000 Russian prisoners of war and a further 50,000 inmates died there.