Holocaust Survivor Shares Powerful Story with Students

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 talk
Mindu Hornick MBE (centre) with University Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green (left), and Senior Lecturer in PGCE Religious Education, Rebecca Davidge (right)

Mindu shared her powerful story to a packed lecture theatre, which included students, in particular teaching students who have been learning about Holocaust Education as part of their PGCE studies, staff and some local schoolchildren.

She told them of her harrowing experiences at the Auschwitz concentration camp (to which she was sent at 12 years old) and in a slave labour camp in Germany, as part of events to mark the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day [on Friday January 27].

Mindu said there were lots of events planned in schools in the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day involving survivors. “We’re the ones driving it because we feel it’s very important that people don’t forget and hopefully they’ll take on board the lessons which should have been learnt from the Holocaust,” she said.

“It was wonderful [to speak to the students]. They were very receptive, but you see they were prepared. It’s important that students should be prepared before Holocaust survivors speak to them. These [students] are more informed, so Holocaust education in schools is very important.”

Mindu has a longstanding association with the University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University in 2018 in recognition of her tireless work on community cohesion.

She also reflected in her talk on this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme, ‘Ordinary People’. The theme aims to highlight the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide and the ordinary people who were persecuted. But it also urges us to consider how ordinary people can make a difference in challenging prejudice now.

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. It is a day set aside to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the millions of people killed in Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides.

Megan Cutler, a trainee teacher on the PGCE Secondary RE course, said: “Mindu is an exceptional woman, and it was a privilege to hear her story first-hand. Authentic voices discussing the Holocaust are essential to Holocaust education, and I will use her story as a basis for teaching about the importance of speaking out against hatred and discrimination.”