STUDENTS in Angmering sat in stunned silence when one of the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust spoke about her extraordinary tale of survival.
Almost 250 year-nine children at The Angmering School were left visibly moved when 84-year-old Susan Pollack visited the school.
The youngsters listened as Mrs Pollack recounted her desperate struggle to survive in Nazi-run concentration camps.
Anna Ward, subject leader of history, said: “The students sat in absolute silence for well over an hour and showed the utmost respect for her. The story she told was unimaginably horrifying. The year-nines asked some really thought-provoking questions.”
Susan was born Zsuzsanna Blau on September 9, 1930 in Felsögöd, Hungary.
In 1938, Susan’s uncle was murdered by fascists and his attacker was sentenced to only a couple of years in jail.
Mrs Ward added: “Jews suffered terribly at this time. The attacker who murders Susan’s uncle returned to live opposite Susan’s widowed aunt.”
Following the outbreak of the second world war, anti-semitism in Susan’s home town became more visible and one day a letter was issued by the council for Jewish fathers to attend a meeting to discuss the welfare of their families.
Susan recounted how her father was among those men who went to the meeting, but when they arrived they were herded into lorries and taken to a concentration camp. Susan never saw her father again.
From later April, 1944, Adolf Eichmann took charge of deportations from Hungary and within six weeks all of the Jews had been deported, mostly to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In late May 1944, Susan and her family were sent by cattle truck to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Susan was separated from her mother who she later learned had been sent directly to the gas chambers.
Mrs Ward added: “She told the students that she had to lie about her age. She was only 14 at time and would have been sent straight to the gas chambers.”
Susan was selected to work and remained at the camp for around ten weeks before being sent to Gubbem in Germany to work as slave labour in an armaments factory.
With the Allies advancing, the prisoners were forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. On April 15, 1945, Susan was liberated by the British Army.
As part of her visits, year-nines had the chance to do their own research on the Holocaust, as well as watching The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which follows the tale of a young boy, whose father is a Nazi commandant at Auschwitz.
This is the seventh year the school has invited a survivor of the Holocaust to speak.
During her talk, Susan told the students after her liberation she discovered that the only other member of her family to survive was her brother Laci.
After the war, Susan lived in Sweden before moving to Canada where she met and married a fellow survivor.
They have three children and six grandchildren.
Susan now lives in London and shares her testimony in schools across the country.
Mrs Ward added: “It’s so important for us to remember the horrors and atrocities that happened in the concentration camps so future generations won’t repeat them.”
The talk was arranged by the school’s history department in conjunction with the Holocaust Educational Trust. It was held last Tuesday (February 4).