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Holocaust survivor to meet local school children from Suffolk and Essex

  • Date

    Thu 24 Jan 19

Frank Bright

One of the last people in the UK who can offer first-hand testimony of the horrors of the Holocaust will re-unite with local school children later this month to share his experiences.

One of the last people in the UK who can offer first-hand testimony of the horrors of the Holocaust will re-unite with local school children later this month to share his experiences.

As a young boy Frank Bright (now 90) was sent to Auschwitz, where both of his parents were killed in the gas chambers, leaving him an orphan. He came to Britain after his liberation. His story is told in a BBC 2 documentary The Last Survivors, to be screened on Holocaust Memorial Day – Sunday 27 January. 

Frank has inspired hundreds of pupils from schools across Essex and Suffolk, who have been lucky enough to meet him, or hear about his experiences, through their involvement in the annual Dora Love Prize. The annual competition was set up by Emeritus Professor Rainer Schulze in memory of Holocaust survivor and University of Essex Honorary Graduate Dora Love, who lived in Colchester. 

It aims to make sure the dreadful atrocities suffered by millions because of genocide and persecution are never forgotten, and that they serve as a guiding motive for young people to develop a sense of personal responsibility and speak up if they see injustice against people because they are considered ‘different’. 

Frank has been Patron of the competition since it was set up in 2013, following Dora Love’s death and he has willingly given up his time to talk to pupils about his life and warn of the dangers of discrimination and hatred which persist in today’s society.

He will be guest of honour at this year’s Dora Love Prize event at the University of Essex on Wednesday 30 January – one of a series of events marking Holocaust Memorial Week. 

Professor Schulze said: “The Dora Love Prize asks students to develop projects that link what they learnt about the Holocaust with the world around them, as it is today. The Holocaust became possible because too many people did not care about what happened to their neighbours, fellow workers or school mates, and looked away when they were first humiliated and then deported to camps.

“We want the young generation to show tolerance and empathy with people of all backgrounds, not just their own, and confront hatred wherever they find it. This is all the more important at a time when we see narrow nationalism, populism and xenophobia on the rise again, threatening to tear apart the very architecture of our society.”

In the BBC documentary Frank shows a black and white photo from his schools days, which is covered in red and blue stickers to show which of his classmates died and which survived. Most are red – signifying they died. That same photo inspired many of the projects undertaken by the schools, with one producing a 3D sculpture based on the picture.
Frank has also spoken openly about how he treasures his father’s coat, one of the only possessions he has of his father, and pupils at one of the schools have created a coat featuring images of the children in Frank’s class. The coat will be torn apart during their performance at the presentation evening.

This year’s competition has attracted entries from 14 schools – although many more have been involved, as many of the high schools have worked with their feeder primary schools on projects to remember the Holocaust. Entries include music, dance, video, displays, presentations, websites, a board game and social media – all on the theme of  ‘Torn from Home’. The winners will be determined by a panel of independent judges and will be announced at the end of the evening on 30 January. 

Frank Bright will hand over the prize to the winning school.