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Holocaust survivor gives ‘incredible’ talk to students at Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 07:30 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 14:35 02 June 2014

Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring visits the students at Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft.

Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring visits the students at Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft.

The horrors faced by millions of Jews in Nazi Germany were spelt out to pupils at a Lowestoft academy as a Holocaust survivor recalled his experiences in the build-up to the Second World War.

COMPELLING STORY: Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring with students Phoebe Birch (left) and Chloe Patterson who arranged his visit to Ormiston Denes Academy. And the wartime papers issued when he fled to the UK from Nazi-held Vienna in 1940.  pictures: NICK BUTCHER COMPELLING STORY: Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring with students Phoebe Birch (left) and Chloe Patterson who arranged his visit to Ormiston Denes Academy. And the wartime papers issued when he fled to the UK from Nazi-held Vienna in 1940. pictures: NICK BUTCHER

About 50 key-stage-four history students at Ormiston Denes Academy were humbled by the testimony of Harry Bibring, 89, as he recounted poignant and traumatic stories of his family’s attempts to escape arrest – and avoid deportation to the notorious death camps.

Staff said his talk had left the 13- and 14-year-olds “mesmerised”.

Mr Bibring was born in Vienna in December 1925 and, after the Anschluss in 1938, he was arrested and forced, along with his family, to leave his flat and live in a house with 50 other Jewish women and children.

Mr Bibring’s family planned to flee to Shanghai but his father was robbed on his way to buy the tickets.

Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring visits the students at Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft. Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring visits the students at Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft.

In November 1940, Mr Bibring’s father died of a heart attack and two years later his mother was deported to a Nazi German death camp at Sobibor in occupied Poland. But he and his sister managed to flee to England on the Kindertransport.

In May 1945, Mr Bibring met his wife-to-be, Muriel, and they were married two years later.

He went on to work for 20 years as a manufacturing engineer and later became a lecturer at Middlesex University. He now regularly travels around the country to recount his experiences to students.

Speaking after his talk and presentations, Mr Bibring said: “I’ve been to Lowestoft before and this visit has been particularly good.

“There is definitely a particular interest in these youngsters, and for me that is great.”

Mr Bibring was joined on the visit by Mike Levy, a Holocaust educator from the Holocaust Educational Trust, who spoke extensively about the Holocaust and about his own involvement and research.

Pupils Phoebe Birch and Chloe Patterson came up with the idea of inviting Mr Bibring to the academy, and they agreed his talk had been “really incredible”.

Jim Rowbotham, head of history at Ormiston Denes, said: “The
students were enthralled from 
beginning to end; you could hear a pin drop.”

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