Holocaust survivor shares his harrowing story to Hitchin students

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 March 2019

Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro visited Hitchin Girls' School. Picture: Nicola Nightingale

Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro visited Hitchin Girls' School. Picture: Nicola Nightingale

Archant

A 90-year-old Holocaust survivor visited a Hitchin school on Tuesday to talk to students about his life.

Hitchin Girls’ School welcomed Harry Spiro, one of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust, as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s outreach programme.

Mr Spiro – who was awarded a BEM in the 2017 New Years’ Honours list – spoke about his life and answered students questions.

Headteacher Frances Manning said: “It was a privilege for us to welcome Harry Spiro to our school and his testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced.

“It will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

Harry was born in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland, in 1929 and lived with his parents and younger sister.

He was 10 when Poland was invaded by Germany, with his hometown of Piotrków the first city where a ghetto was established by the Nazis.

The ghetto was overcrowded and unhygenic, with Harry also forced to work in glass factory despite still being a child.

In October 1942, all 22,000 inhabitants except those working in the factory were taken to Treblinka extermination camp and killed, including Harry’s family.

The 2,000 remaining workers were later to sent to a labour camp in the nearby city of Czstochowa, before being moved to Buchenwald and then Rehmsdorf concentration camps.

As the war drew to a close, Harry and his fellow prisoners were moved to another camp via train, but the train line was bombed and they were forced to march the rest of the way to Terezín in the former Czechoslovakia.

Of the 3,000 people who started the march, many died before reaching the camp, with Harry among the 270 survivors.

Terezín was later liberated by Soviet soldiers.

Harry was one of 732 children who settled in the UK in 1945, going on to open his own shop and marry Pauline in 1957.

Today, he lives just outside London and often about his experiences during the Holocaust as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.

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