The Manchester Grammar School welcomed Holocaust survivor Icek Alterman as part of the annual commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Icek – known as Ike - shared some harrowing experiences with year 9 pupils and even showed the tattoo which was branded onto his arm at Auschwitz.
Ike was only 13-years-old when he watched his mother, sister and younger brother being marched away at gunpoint.
This was the age of many Manchester Grammar School pupils who listened to his talk and who were able to participate in a Question and Answer session with Ike in relation to his time spent in four concentration camps.
Ike has only recently been able to start talking about the atrocities which he witnessed during the Second World War, but is determined to ensure that his story helps to prevent any such future barbarity.
Ike was only of only 700 Jewish children who were sent from Auschwitz to Great Britain after the camps were liberated.
He became one of the “Windermere Children” who were taken to a place in the Lake District, which allowed them to integrate into life in England.
Ike married, had two daughters and eventually was able to set himself up as a jeweller in Manchester.
He continued to work until his late 70s and remains an inspiring example of a Holocaust survivor who continues to embrace life, despite his terrifying childhood.
Ike was joined by Radio 5 presenter, Nihal Arthanayake, who led the Q&A.
Nihal Arthanayake is host of Radio 5 Live’s ‘Afternoon Arthanayake’ and presenter of the hugely successful Penguin Podcast. Nihal won Interview of the Year at the 2019 BBC Radio and Music Awards.
Ike met with all of the Sixth Form pupils who are leaders of the religious societies for lunch which was a fantastic opportunity.
Year 9 pupil Benjy commented: "MGS had the privilege and honour to host 95 year old Ike Alterman, a Holocaust survivor to share his story with the Year 9 pupils. Ike’s story left us shocked, moved and inspired as he told us what suffering he’d endured and why it is so important that the young people of today make sure that people never forget the horrors that took place in Holocaust. Ike told us, “Nobody is immortal, but the stories that people tell can live forever” And that we, as Year 9 pupils are now the guardians of his story. Showing us the importance of re-telling and educating people about the Holocaust. The event that took place in the theatre saw Nihal Arthanayake (BBC Radio 5 Live presenter) interview Ike as well as putting forward the questions of other pupils. The Q&A was followed by a song which was accompanied on the piano by Year 11 student Shai Portnoy. The song was called memories and was picked because of the story it told. Memories tells the story of a Holocaust survivor taking comfort in his grandchildren safeguarding his memories so that no one would forget the family he lost. Listening to the final words of the song, “I know that God in Heaven won’t forget” left with us, as the young people of today, a sense of duty and responsibility to share the important messages of Ike’s story".
Benjy added: "As survivors of this tragic event grow fewer, the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day grows bigger, the aim of this day is now not only to remember, but to educate the younger generations, because this is an event that must not be forgotten. Ike shared with us the importance of remembering the Holocaust by saying, “ The only way to make sure this never happens again is to make sure it’s never forgotten.” I personally felt that Ike’s story will not only stay with me forever but his wisdom that he shared with us will be treasured by not only me but every single Year 9 student and teacher that had the privilege to witness Ike tell his story. Ike is an inspiration to us all, and the message that he instilled in us, always remember, guard the story and never forget will stay with us forever. It is such a privilege for me to be in a school like MGS, where a day like this is made so important, and the message is held so strong".
Thank you to Ike for his visit and to everyone who was involved in making this event possible!