The Anne Frank Ambassadors
We commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2015 and throughout the week, in school, some of our brave ambassadors gave assemblies for the other pupils. They spoke about what happened during the Holocaust and what it was. Afterwards, they fed back that the faces of some of the students told them that they had no idea about how horrific Adolf Hitler and the Nazis treated people. Also in the assemblies there were photographs of different memorials in different places. They asked everyone to think about what they symbolised before having a minutes reflection to pray for those affected by the Holocaust. Candles were lit on the school stage as our own memorial.
On Tuesday, all of Greenbank’s ambassadors went to Alsop High School in Liverpool to take part in a special service. We listened to students sharing stories about other Jews, like Anne Frank, some of who kept diaries or records or survived persecution and had talked about their experiences with the school children. The participating schools were instructed to bring with them a pebble or stone from within the school grounds and an object that celebrated a memory from the school’s history. We were struggling to find a stone, but Mrs. Ramsey kindly donated a shiny pebble that has been in the library for as long as she can remember. It will be taken with the rest to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. As for a special object, Astrid, Ella and Ellen made a small book about our school. At the end of the service, we each received a candle which Mr. Raikes lit in some of the assemblies.
On Friday, 30th January at 4:30am in the morning all sixteen ambassadors, along with Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Hogarth and Mr. Raikes, set off for Liverpool John Lennon airport where we would get the aeroplane to the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. We managed to get through security without much of a hassle and boarded the plane which had been delayed by half an hour. For some, it was their first time in an aeroplane or it’d been years since they had last flown and so about three quarters of the group were really scared about flying. I was one of the only ones who loved the take-off, where as others sat hunched over with their heads in their hands. Once we’d landed, we took the train to the centre of Amsterdam and walked to a restaurant to have lunch.
We had a tour of the Anne Frank Huis, including Otto Frank’s office and the kitchen where they’d make the Opekta; it’s off limits to the public so we felt honoured to be permitted to go there. When we listened we could hear the tourists, walking about up in the annex. It was clear now why they had been forced to stay still during the day when the workers were around, the noise was ridiculous.
After the tour, we had the privilege of meeting Janneke and Sahar, two Dutch ambassadors, and an Australian and two Argentinean ambassadors. They told us what they’ve been doing to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and, in turn, we shared our stories. Janneke said that her projects involved making a video about racism and setting up a couch in the middle of Amsterdam and encouraging people to sit and talk to people that they wouldn’t normally do. Sahar had interviewed people who had experienced war and persecution more recently than WW2. Janneke said that fireworks are illegal in The Netherlands but on New Years Eve people are allowed to light them, however, some victims of war are so terrified of the noise that they stay inside all day with the memories of loss, fear and dread flooding back to them. When we told them of what we had done in the past week, they said they thought it was great that we’d shared what we know about the Holocaust with at least five hundred other people already. We spent over three hours visiting the house, which gave us much to reflect on.
We would like to thank Sarah from the Anne Frank Trust who organised the activities at the house, which has given the ambassadors a lot of inspiration for the future.
We arrived back in Southport at midnight, after a delayed flight back, exhausted but exhilarated by the day.
By Anna Cannell