On Friday we were delighted to welcome Uri Winterstein, our holocaust survivor, to Notre Dame College. His story of growing up in Slovakia during World War II and the loss of large numbers of family members, during this time, was both moving and sad. Despite this, Uri’s spirit and enthusiasm for life was infectious.
The most memorable part of Uri’s testimony, for many of our students, was the moment that he decided that he should share his life experiences with others. As he sat in his local synagogue in London, his rabbi reminded the Jewish congregation that the story of surviving the holocaust really had to be shared with young people; it mustn’t be kept within. As a result Uri began to question “am I truly a survivor”? He had never thought of himself in this way before. He found the thoughts very emotional; as his family had not openly discussed their experience, yet he knew that at 70 years of age he would now have to embark on a whole new journey. He realised that he must now educate others about acceptance, tolerance and the fact that hatred never wins.
Uri reminded students, six years after his decision to share his life experiences, that they must be brave enough to stand up to hatred. Uri said that being in schools ‘made him feel young again’: he felt uplifted because he was working with children and they were the future generation. His message concluded that our students truly are the future and the only instrument to combat intolerance is education.
Many thanks to Uri for visiting Liverpool, for the first time and providing our students with such a thought provoking and moving experience.