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Sheringham students hear family’s holocaust story

11:42 04 February 2014

Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke with Sheringham High School students (from left): Skye Pointer, Lucy Brett and Jacob Ilsley. Photo: Karen Bethell.

Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke with Sheringham High School students (from left): Skye Pointer, Lucy Brett and Jacob Ilsley. Photo: Karen Bethell.

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Students at Sheringham High School marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a visit from a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps who lost 15 family members in Auschwitz.

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Eva Clarke, whose mother Anka Bergman’s battle for survival was the subject of an acclaimed BBC documentary, was born in Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria, just days before the notoriously brutal camp was liberated by the US army.

Mrs Clarke, who lives at Cambridge, became involved in the Holocaust Educational Trust 14 years ago while working as a college administrator.

Since retiring, she has told the story of her mother’s life to primary and high school students all over the UK, also giving talks in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the US.

“It is not an easy thing to do, as I am not telling a story, I am talking about my family, but, in my experience, everyone can identify with one family, whereas nobody can identify with six million.” she said.

“I can be churning away inside, but I feel it is my duty, partly to bring the history alive, but also to prevent these things from happening again.”

After hearing about Mrs Clarke’s mother’s perilous, three-week journey via coal truck from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, where she gave birth weighing just five stone, the Sheringham students had a chance to take part in a question and answer session.

“To begin with, children are often a bit stunned by the story, but their response is invariably positive and they go on to ask very pertinent questions,” Mrs Clarke said.

Sheringham High School head teacher Tim Roderick said the school had been involved with the Holocaust Educational Trust, which organises talks and workshops in schools, universities and community groups, for a number of years, with staff and students making annual visits to Auschwitz since 2000.

“We were delighted when we learned that Eva, as a survivor, was able to visit as hearing her story brings home what happened in a much more powerful way than any teacher could and, at the heart of it, is that we must never forget,” he said.

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