Dereham pupils hear tale from Holocaust survivor

History pupils in Dereham sat in silence as they listened to a Holocaust survivor recount his inspirational story.

Harry Bibring, who was born in Vienna, spent an afternoon with the year 11 teenagers at Neatherd High School recalling his childhood in Nazi-occupied Austria.

The talk kept pupils enthralled for nearly two hours and gave their GCSE studies a human face.

Paige George, 15, of Dereham, said: 'It was inspirational – seriously. I have never felt so moved by a story from someone before.

'You learn about it in the classroom, we read books and are told about it, but hearing it first hand makes it that much more real.'

Mr Bibring told the schoolchildren how he had watched his home city taken over by the Nazis. Jewish people, like him, were quickly banned from the ice rinks and cinemas. He was forced to leave the grammar school he had worked hard to get into and sent to a secondary school where all Jewish pupils had to sit on the floor at the back of the classroom.

The 85-year-old, who recalled events as he saw them at the age of 13, said: 'What a lovely atmosphere to go to school in. The kids hate you, the building is horrible, there's nowhere to sit and everybody dislikes you. I hated this school with a passion.'

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As the situation in Vienna got worse for the Jews, Mr Bibring and his elder sister Gertie were sent to England by his parents to stay.

The family's contact was reduced to letters. In 1941, his father's name no longer appeared on the notes. He had had a heart attack and died while being driven to a concentration camp.

Mr Bibring said: 'He lies in a proper grave in a proper cemetery in Vienna. He was the lucky one of the two.'

By the summer of 1942, the letters from his mother had also stopped. It was not until 2005 he discovered she had been taken to Sobibor extermination camp.

'She found her end along with six million others,' said the son, who has lived in London since moving to England in 1939.

With tears in her eyes, GCSE history pupil Frankii Matthews, 16, said: 'It was really amazing. I'm usually quite a heartless person, but it was really inspirational.'

At the end of his talk last week, Mr Bibring asked students to learn from his story and help stamp out discrimination and genocide – alluding to current tensions in the Middle East.

Luke Mayhew, head of history at Neatherd High School, said: 'The kids have been looking forward to this for a long time. You could hear a pin drop. They are so interested in it.'