29 June 2023
Writing: Adam Seymour (Year 7), Alexander Deakin-Radkov (Year 9), Rishi Singh (Year 9)
Editing: George Clark (Year 12)
Throughout the spring term in Year 9 History, students learned of the horrifically tormenting experiences of Holocaust survivors through ‘Shoah’. At the start of the Summer term a Holocaust survivor, Ivan Shaw, gave the school a visit and spoke of his time as a young boy through the Holocaust and how he settled into Amersham from Novi Sad, Yugoslavia.
After the invasion by Nazi Germany into Yugoslavia in May 1944, his parents were deported and he tragically never saw them again, this was the terrible reality of many if not most Holocaust victims. Five-year-old Ivan spent ten days in a transit camp and only escaped being sent to the camps by his aunt, who bravely rescued and gave him a place to hide for seven months, looking after him for three years. Life continued to be difficult for Ivan as Yugoslavia became a country under Soviet Communist influence and in 1947 Ivan was sent to England and adopted by his other aunt. Now, Ivan sits on adoption panels, keen to use his own experience to help others who are less fortunate in not being able to have children.
He was the embodiment and definition of a role model - inspiring, determined and devoted to educating others about his upbringing so as to keep the flame of remembrance from dying. Further to this, students were invited to apply for the opportunity to have lunch with Ivan and six were chosen to attend. He was his apparent usual self - brimmed with jokes and being great company. In summary, we found it to be an amazing experience that not only elevated our knowledge about the Holocaust and the events surrounding it, but it was also deeply sentimental and made us really come to terms with the many people in this world like Ivan, who despite his horrific experiences, was a great and inspirational figure to talk to.