I Survived. Six Million Didn’t – A Talk by Sam Gontarz

05 February 2019

On Monday 28 January, we were privileged to welcome Sam Gontarz, his son, Robbie, and Trevor Avery, of the Lake District Holocaust Project, to Windermere School.  Our guests were invited to help with our commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, which happens annually on 27 January.  This date marked 74 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.  Sam is a holocaust survivor and he came to share his testimony of his experiences of life in the ghetto and incarceration in five concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

Trevor Avery introduced Sam and gave us some insights into local connections with the Windermere Boys and the work that is carried out by the Lake District Holocaust Project.  He encouraged everyone to visit the exhibition, above the Windermere Library, entitled ‘From Auschwitz to Ambleside’.

Robbie shared his father’s experiences and this was extremely moving as we heard about the atrocities that Sam had faced.  Sam was then very generous in answering questions from the audience and this gave further insights into his life, both during and after the war.  He stayed behind for over an hour after the talk and generously answered questions and chatted with a small group of Year 13 students.

It is only relatively recently that Sam has been able to share his story and it is clear that it takes a lot of emotional strength, for himself and for Robbie, to revisit such a difficult period of Sam’s life.  We cannot thank the family enough for their determination to share this first-hand testimony.  It was a remarkable afternoon and one that I am sure will leave a lasting impression on all those who were fortunate enough to attend. 

Mrs J King (Director of Student Pathways and Careers)

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