Last week some Year 10 and 11 students were fortunate to be able to listen to holocaust survivor Mrs Eva Schloss MBE who was speaking at West Island School. The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre hosted Ms Eva Schloss MBE to commemorate the UN Holocaust Memorial Day and the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Ms Schloss herself is an Auschwitz survivor, as well as being the stepsister of Anne Frank and an internationally renowned peace activist. She spoke movingly about her own experience of hiding in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of Holland before being captured on her 15th birthday. After being arrested, she was transported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where she endured the most appalling conditions for over two years. Ms Schloss was one of the very few prisoners who survived along with her mother, but both her father and brother tragically died there.
One of our key aims at South Island is for students to embrace international and intercultural diversity. Listening to a holocaust survivor is a unique opportunity to learn about the roots of prejudice and to explore the dangers of remaining indifferent to the oppression of others. Living in such a diverse and multicultural city makes it all the more essential for students to reflect upon what it means to be a responsible citizen.
Worryingly, instances of anti-semitism and intolerance are increasing again in the world today. Ms Schloss reminded us all of our responsibility to “speak up when we see injustice happening”. She also spoke about the importance of hope and, despite the unimaginable loss and the despair she experienced, she was able to overcome any bitterness. Listening to Eva was a powerful experience which reminded us of important life lessons.
As we approach the Chinese New Year of the Rat, it is a timely opportunity for us to celebrate our strong school community and to reflect upon our collective responsibility to work together to be inclusive and always aim to Make a Difference to the lives of others.
I wish you all a peaceful, healthy and Happy Chinese New Year.