Chigwell School Year 8 and 9 pupils had a rare privilege to listen to the testimony of 95 -years old Mr Chaim (Harry) Olmer, who is a Holocaust survivor. Mr Olmer was born in Poland before the Second World War and lived during the increasingly violent persecution that the Jewish community suffered after the German invasion in September 1939. He was separated from the rest of his family when he was taken to his first Labour Camp in Skarzysko Kamienne. Here he lied about his age to avoid execution for being too young therefore useless in the production of ammunition for German troops. Mr Olmer was transported to two more concentration camps, Teresienstadt and Buchenwald, where eventually the British Army liberated him. The British Red Cross took him and several rescued Jewish teenagers to Lake Windermere, where they recuperated. Later he pursued a career as a dentist, became a proud father and then a grandfather.
Mr Olmer is physically fragile yet he is almost unbeatable in his passion for reflection, for tolerance and for the futility of hate. He is a victorious man who proved that despite being subjected to incomprehensible cruelty, you can go on living if you work hard, if you forgive and if you have a goal. History teacher, Mrs Teresa Kwiecinska commented that it was an honour to host this man at Chigwell.