Students from Erne Integrated College got to hear about the experiences of a Holocaust survivor who visited the school last week as part of the build up to Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.

On Friday, October 18, genocide survivor Tomi Reichental spoke to over 150 students at the college. Tomi survived the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen aged nine years old.

Erne Integrated College were privileged to welcome Tomi and students from Devenish College, St Joseph’s College and St Mary’s Irvinestown.

Tomi spoke to the students about his experiences during the Holocaust and in the notorious Bergen-Belsen and it was humbling to hear what he endured and a chilling reminder of the horrors of the concentration camps.

Tomi’s crime was being Jewish in Slovakia under Jozef Tiso’s regime which collaborated with the Nazis in the deportation of 80 per cent of its Jewish population.

By the time Belsen was liberated in 1945, 35 of Tomi’s relatives has died.

Tomi presented each school with signed copies of his books, “I was a Boy in Belsen” and “Tomi.”

Small group discussions held after the talk gave students the opportunity to ask questions.

Tomi talked about the fact that after the Holocaust it was said that an event as such would never happen again and yet tragically genocide has happened again, in Bosnia (2020 also marks 25 years since Srebrenica) and Rwanda.

He reminded the students and staff of their civic responsibility to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

Tomi has lived in Dublin since 1959 and been recognised for the work that he does in speaking out about the Holocaust.

He is gentle and thought-provoking man who has learned to reconcile his past and forgive those who perpetrated crimes against him, it was an honour to meet him and more importantly learn from his experiences.

The event was supported by the Northern Ireland Executive Office working closely with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and schools across Northern Ireland.