STUDENTS listened in silence as a Holocaust survivor told her amazing life story.
Joanna Millan, whose parents both died in Nazi concentration camps, delivered a powerful testimony to youngsters at Bede Sixth Form College in Billingham.
Students Sophie Richardson and Matthew Lowe organised the visit after returning from a moving visit to Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
In 1943 Joanna, a German born jew, and her mother were taken from their home and sent to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp 50 miles outside of Prague.
The following year, aged two, her mother contracted TB due to the conditions in the camp, leaving her orphaned and alone in the camp.
When the camp was liberated at the end of the war, Joanna, along with five other surviving orphans, was flown to England in British bomber planes.
She was adopted by a Jewish couple in London.
Miriam Stanton, head of Bede Sixth Form, said: “It had a very strong impact on the students. A couple of hundred 17 and 18-year-olds listened intently.
“We hope that by hearing Joanna’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”
The event also included a question and answer session to give pupils a better understanding of the Holocaust and learn lessons for the future.
The visit was organised through the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the trust said: “Joanna’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing her testimony, students will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”
Joanna went on to marry a Jewish man and has three children and eight grandchildren.
She is a magistrate and speaks regularly about her experiences.