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On Thursday April 10th, holocaust survivor and guest speaker, Tomi Reichental, visited Scoil Ruain. Tomi, who is from the Slovakian town of Merasice was transported at the age of just 9 years to the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp in Northern Germany. There he spent several months until the British Army liberated the camp in 1945.
In a two hour lecture, Tomi detailed his experience to the 400 or so studetns of the school. Tomi’s harrowing story gripped students and teachers alike as he told the sory of how he and his family were captured and sent to the camp in a packed catle truck in a non-stoop seven day journey. Tomi was fortunate that he, along with his brother and mother were reunited with his father after the liberation.
Those in attendance were shocked as Tomi recalled the treatment of the Jewish people and the conditions in the camp at Belsen. Tomi did not speak about his expereince for 55 years but then realised that this story had to be told and he encouraged the entire student body to share the story with family and friends. He explained to the students that the Holocaust began with bullying and racism and urged them to stand up against these behaviours today.
Tomi has written a book called ‘I was a Boy in Belsen’. The documentary of Tomi’s story ‘Til the Tenth Generation’ was shown on RTE television in 2009. Tomi is currently working on a second documentary and is to appear as a guest on Brendan O’Connor’s ‘Saturday Night Show’ in May.
After the lecture, Tomi was happy to meet students, sign copies of his book and pose for photographs. Not surprisingly, copies of his book sold out quickly as many students sacrificed their lunch to meet him.