by JENNY MONROE
Fort Hill College pupil Natalie Davis presents a gift and donation to Holocaust survivor Mr. Harry Bibring.
Mr. Harry Bibring (Front row centre), a survivor from the Holocaust on his recent visit to Fort Hill College with Mrs. Margaret McCormick, Acting Principal and Mrs. Maureen Greene (Head of History). Also attending the talk were Governors Adrian Blythe, Marian Wilcox, Katherine Playfair and John Brackenridge.
A HOLOCAUST survivor has travelled from London to tell his story to a group of Lisburn school students.
150 pupils, staff and members of the Board of Governors from Fort Hill College heard Harry Bibring, who was born in 1925, tell them of his early life before the Nazis invaded Austria.
He recalled how he loved to go ice — skating, especially speed skating, on the rinks in Vienna. However after the Anschluss and the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938 he was banned from his local ice — rink because he was a Jew.
His other passion was swimming and again he was banned because of his religion. Harry was forced to leave his Gymnasium (German grammar school) and was transferred to a school that was specifically for Jewish children.
Then on November 10 1938, as a consequence of his religion, Harry's father's menswear business was looted and destroyed during Kristallnacht. He was arrested and the family was forced to leave their flat and live in a house, together with 50 other Jewish women and children.
The Bibrings were allowed to return to their flat following Harry's father's release. But by this point they knew they had to leave Vienna.
The intention was for the family to flee to Shanghai but his father was robbed on his way to buy the tickets. Fearing for the safety of their children, Harry's parents decided that Harry and his sister, Gerta, should leave for the United Kingdom on a Kindertransport train.
The plan was for them to be sponsored by a family friend, and for Harry's parents to join them as soon as they could. Unfortunately that never happened. In November 1940 Harry's father died of a heart attack. His mother was deported to the death camp at Sobibor in Poland in 1942 and she later died there.
During his story Mr Bibring showed photographs and allowed the students to handle some of his personal documents, including his identity card for the Kindertransport and letters written between Harry and his family.
His testimony was followed by a question and answer session, when some of the pupils were able to ask him more about his life in Vienna and England.
Maureen Greene, Head of History at Fort Hill College, said: It was a privilege for us to welcome Harry to our school and his story will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for coordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Harry's story first hand, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives."
David Gorman, a Year 12 student at Fort Hill said: "Harry Bibring was a very brave man to come in and talk to us about what happened to him and his family — he must have some terrible pictures in his head of what happened. I found it very interesting to hear from an actual Holocaust Survivor and what he and other Jews had to go through. I am very privileged to have heard his story."