Holocaust Remembrance Day

 On Monday 16 December 2013, Eva Clarke visited Arthur Mellows to tell her amazing life story to Year 9 students.  Eva came in to talk to us about the Second World War and life in concentration camps, and to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.  What makes her story so remarkable is that she is a  survivor of the Holocaust; in fact, she was born in a transit camp weighing only three pounds to her mother who, at nine months pregnant, weighed only five stones!
 
As Jews, her family were at risk from the Nazis, who sent postcards telling them to go to their local train stations, without knowing the trains would take them to a transit camp where they would end up living and working for three years, because they were good workers. Eventually, Eva’s father was sent to the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp, and a day later, her mother volunteered to go there as well because she did not know when she might see him again. They were packed in their thousands on cattle trucks and sent to Auschwitz where they were immediately segregated by gender, so in fact she never saw her husband alive again.  
 
 At the camp, the Nazis separated the men and women but Eva’s mother was pregnant for the first time, with a boy.  If you became pregnant the Nazis would take the baby away and kill them, and possibly the parents would get sent to a gas chamber.  Five other women were also pregnant and got their children killed, but Eva’s mother’s child was not taken away, though sadly he died two months later. Eva’s mother was lucky enough to get offered a job, so it was unlikely she would be sent to the gas chambers, and then she was moved to another camp two weeks before the end of the war.  On the train to the camp she gave birth to Eva.  During her time in Auschwitz, she even met Dr Mengele, a famous Nazi officer who was interested in genetics and experimented on twins and people with different coloured eyes, which as a twin myself, I found really disturbing.
 
 
Eva’s story was really horrifying, but also quite uplifting because she and her mother survived and went on to live amazing lives. In fact, this was Eva’s 25th visit to a school since September,  to tell people her family’s extraordinary story and hopefully prevent anything so terrible from ever being allowed to happen again.  Sadly, Eva’s mother passed away earlier this year, but it was obvious that she was an amazing woman, and her memory and story of hope lives on.
 
By Belle Hillier, 9LBE