School children in Sunderland have created a quilt to help raise awareness of Holocaust Memorial Day on next week.
Pupils from Grangetown Primary have created the patchwork quilt, designing individual squares based on the memories and experiences of Jewish children who fled to Britain to escape Nazi persecution before the Second World War.
The children were asked to think how it must have felt to have been one of the 10,000 mainly Jewish children evacuated from Germany and Austria through the ‘Kindertransport’ programme.
The project, which began last year with year six children, comes as part of a Sunderland City Council Library Services funded project.
Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health Wellness and Culture Councillor John Kelly said: “The Library Service has organised this joint venture as part of its Holocaust Memorial commemorations for 2016.
“It is vital that we never forget such chapters in our history, and getting young people involved in arts projects, such as this, is an invaluable method of teaching.
“The quilt created by the pupils at Grangetown Primary provides a poignant and permanent reminder how previous generations of children have suffered through persecution and war.”
The quilt is based on an original project, developed in America during the 1980s by Anita Grosz, whose father was a Kindertransport refugee.
Anita asked evacuees and members of their family to design a square representing their memories and thoughts from the time, resulting in four quilts now on display in the Holocaust Memorial Centre in North America.
From this, each pupil was asked to consider the experiences and feelings of the Kindertransport children and design their own square to be sewn together to create the new quilt.
Headteacher of Grangetown Primary School Les McAnaney added: “Our year six children enjoyed the workshops and gained important insights into a traumatic episode in history – one which must never be forgotten.
“Teaching children about the Holocaust is important but is undoubtedly a challenge. However, it’s also true that art provides one means by which children can begin to access the realities of life for those who were fleeing persecution.
“We’d like to thank Sunderland Library Services for giving us the opportunity to be part of the Kindertransport Project – it was an ideal way for the children to follow-up the work they had done earlier in the term on the life of Anne Frank.”
After being on display at City Library and Arts Centre for Holocaust Memorial Day, the quilt will be on view at community venues across the city before being loaned to the school as a legacy of the project.
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 is ‘ Don’t Stand by ’ which based on the idea that while some actively supported state policies of persecution, the vast majority stood by silently afraid to speak out or at worst, indifferent.
‘Don’t Stand By’ focuses on those who decided not to be by-standers to hate crime and prejudice, and to take action such as Kindertransport against it.