31 January 2024
In recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day, St Mary’s Senior School parent Sophie delivered an extremely thought-provoking assembly today about her father, Dr Hans Steiner who was a Holocaust survivor. She shared with girls in Years 7 through to Year 11 about his experiences in hiding as a young child during the war, and then rebuilding his life in Britain after 1945.
Sophie also discussed her father’s book ‘A Memoir of Survival and Eventual Happiness and Fulfilment in Life 1934 to 1964: Following the Persecution of the Jews of Vienna by the Nazi Regime of 1938 to 1945’ which told his story of growing up in Vienna in a long-established Jewish family and fleeing to Belgium in 1939 where he was hidden in a convent and educated under a false name. Sadly, his mother and father died in Auschwitz, but Hans Steiner survived the war and saw the liberation of Belgium in 1945. He moved to London in 1947 to live with his aunt and uncle and went on to study medicine. The book concludes as he took up the post of Registrar at Newcastle in 1964. Running alongside the story of Dr Stein’s early life, the themes of forgiveness, human decency and kindness in the face of cruelty are highlighted.
Sophie shared a hopeful message of how her father survived, and how she is so very thankful to be able to tell his story. It was incredible for the pupils to hear how ordinary people were prepared to take risks to make a positive difference by helping someone in need. A Q&A session followed for Year 10 and Year 11 History and Religious Studies GCSE pupils to allow them to uncover some of his story in more depth.