The Holocaust—an unprecedented event in history—in many ways defies rational analysis and falls beyond the limits of our collective imagination. Perhaps where logic and reason fail us, the human story is all we have to fill the void and bring meaning and understanding to what seems otherwise inexplicable.
On Wednesday 28 March 2019, Year 10 History students were moved by the story of Holocaust survivor, Mrs Regina Lipshut. Born in Paris in 1941, Mrs Lipshut was an infant when both her parents were taken to Auschwitz.
The question of why she survived is one that Mrs Lipshut has had a lifetime to ponder. In her own words, ‘… it was pure luck. It wasn’t good management—all of it was luck …’. Mrs Lipshut’s story of survival began when her mother made the heartbreaking decision to relinquish her children into the care of a Jewish orphanage so that they might have a chance to live.
From here, the children were sent into hiding in the countryside where they were cared for by a Catholic couple who had young children of their own. This family placed themselves in great danger harbouring three Jewish children; the penalties for being caught would have been dire. To this day, Mrs Lipshut has maintained a close relationship with the now elderly children of this couple and calls them her second family.
While the Holocaust forces us to confront the darkest aspects of humanity, stories of humanity’s best also shine through. Mrs Lipshut’s survival story, like so many others, serves to warn us of the depths to which bigotry and racism can take a society. It also reminds us of the power of ordinary people to make a profound difference when they take a stand against prejudice and reject the position of bystander.
Ms Alison Dare
Director of Humanities