Express & Star

Oldbury pupils moved by stories of Holocaust survivor Mindu

Students at an Oldbury secondary school were left spellbound when they had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear directly from a survivor of the Holocaust.

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Mindu with Perryfields Headteacher Claire Harris

Ninety-five-year-old Mindu Hornick MBE, who as a young girl survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, visited Perryfields Academy and addressed year nine students about her harrowing wartime experiences.

In softly spoken words, she told a hushed school hall how in 1942, at the age of twelve, she was forced from her home in Slovakia and sent with her family to the notorious camp.

When the family arrived at Auschwitz, Mindu and her sister were sent ahead by their mother on the advice of a Polish prisoner. This simple act saved their lives, as the girls were sent to work as slave labourers rather than to die in the gas chamber. Mindu never saw her mother and brothers again.

Perryfields headteacher Clare Harris said: “You could tell by a lot of the students’ faces that they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and what Mindu went through.

“I think the story resonated with many of the students, and they’ll walk away realising the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they’ve had today. It was an absolute honour and a privilege to hear Mindu speak.”

Mindu with Perryfields Headteacher Claire Harris

She said: “Our school is at the heart of a diverse community, so Mindu’s message of tolerance and kindness is an essential one.

“We also have children here who have literally joined us from war-torn areas around the world – so Mindu’s words really were relevant, even though her experiences were so many decades ago.”

Mindu told of her experiences working in dangerous conditions in a munitions factory in Hamburg and her encounter with the infamous ‘angel of death’ Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who performed experiments on over 15,000 Jewish prisoners.

Mindu with Year Nine pupils from Perryfields

She said: "They were lovely children – they asked some very good questions.

“I do what I do because of what’s going on in the world. My message is always the same: to be tolerant, to stand up for those being persecuted, and never to hate. Hatred has catastrophic consequences.

“It is more important now than ever before that we have people talking.”