16 January 2017
Gerald Granston, a long-standing member of Southgate Progressive Synagogue, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his work in Holocaust Education
Gerald, a Holocaust survivor, travels around the country speaking to schools and youth clubs about being a young child in Nazi Germany.
He talks about the state persecution he suffered and tells the story of the SS St. Louis, on which he was a passenger in June 1939 at the age of six. The ship, containing nearly 1,000 Jewish people escaping the Nazis, was refused entry in both Cuba and the United States. Gerald tells of the fear the passengers felt on being sent back to Nazi Germany.
At the very last minute, due to the heroic efforts of the ship’s captain, Captain Schroder, and Morris Tropper, the European head of the American Joint Distribution charity, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK each agreed to take a percentage of the passengers.
Sadly, research by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum found that 254 passengers on board with Gerald still died in the Shoah, after the German invasions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Gerald said: “British schools have very little knowledge of what life was like for Jews in 1933 to 1945. I emphasise that the students listening to me are future of our country and how they have to stand up against prejudice.
“The most important part for me is always the questions and feed back after my talk which –usually, but regrettably not always – shows that they have realised how essential it is for them to fight prejudice wherever it raises its head.”
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