Holocaust Survivor Talk

On Wednesday 25 February, Paston was privileged to host a talk given by John Dobai, a survivor of the Holocaust, on his experiences in Hungary during the era of the Nazi domination of Central Europe. This talk was organised by Dave Sparkhall, History Teacher at Paston, with the help of Jasper Haywood and Sophie Coles, two students who had been given the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau the previous year, via the Lessons from Auschwitz Project which is an annual event organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust. 

John’s testimony took in his childhood in Budapest and his family’s decision to convert from Judaism to Catholicism to escape the increasing anti-semitism advancing across Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. To a hushed crowd of around 200 students, John then described the political and military events that led to his father’s imprisonment in a forced labour camp and the circumstances that ended with both him and the rest of his family escaping deportation to Auschwitz due to the courageous actions of Raul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat.

Students were able to ask questions about John’s experiences including ‘do you forgive your persecutors?’ which he answered by stating that although he could not forgive them, he did not hate them. A remarkable answer from a remarkable person. 

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