Years 11-12 History students were privileged to hear a personal account of the Holocaust during a visit by eighty-seven year old Hetty Verolme who was sent to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a thirteen-year-old. More than thirty thousand people died at that camp alone but somehow Hetty survived, and when World War Two ended she was reunited with her parents and two brothers.
Now living in Perth, Hetty has established a charity to ensure the atrocities of the holocaust are never forgotten. Despite her advanced years, she is on a personal mission to visit schools and talk to students about the horrors of those years, so they will never be repeated. This week History students, as well as staff and visiting parents, heard stories of life in Amsterdam at the outbreak of the war and of Jews being forced to wear the Star of David. Hetty also spoke about life in the children’s house at the camp where she took on a mothering role with many of the younger children, organising games and activities to take their minds off the pain of being separated from their parents and being constantly hungry, dirty and cold.
Her stories were sometimes painful to hear but she also had a positive message: no matter what happens, or how hard life can be, we should ‘always believe tomorrow will be a better day.’
Hetty signed copies of her books, Hetty: A True Story and The Children’s House of Belsen, for the College library and for students.
Hetty is an inspirational legend whose personal story needs to be heard. I was able to increase my personal knowledge of the Holocaust from Hetty’s words and stories. She is a real victim who has a true story to tell, which makes the learning experience more realistic and different from just reading about it. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation and appreciated the opportunity of being educated about the Holocaust from a survivor.
Grace Hercik-Saul, Year 11