A German woman who fled the Holocaust as a child has given a talk to school pupils in County Durham.
Ruth Barnett spoke to Year 8 pupils at Seaham High School as part of an event organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Ruth also took questions from the students to help them gain a better understanding of the Holocaust and the lessons that can be learned from it.
Born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, Ruth came to the UK in 1939 at the age of four as part of the Kindertransport scheme – a rescue initiative that saw around 10,000, mainly Jewish, children placed in British foster families, hostels and schools.
Over the next decade, Ruth and her brother lived in three foster homes and a hostel. Her father, meanwhile, had managed to escape to Shanghai. Her mother remained in Germany, but was forced to go into hiding after taking part in a protest in Berlin.
In 1949, Ruth had to go back to Germany after her father filed a court order requesting her return. But – preferring to stay in England – she came back to the UK a year later, only returning to Germany to visit her parents during school holidays.
Ruth later attended university and forged a career as a teacher and psychotherapist. She converted to Judaism so she could marry her Jewish boyfriend and in 2008 the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
David Shield, the headteacher of Seaham High School, said, “It was a privilege to welcome Ruth to our school. Her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced.”
“We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for coordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Ruth’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”
The chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollack MBE, said, “Ruth’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing her testimony, students have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”
(The featured image shows Ruth Barnett with some of the Year 8 pupils from Seaham High School.)