Former teacher Freddy Naftel has given a series of spell-binding lectures to King's School history classes on Anti-Semitism and is determined that it should be laid bare in all its horrific guises. He told his audiences of Year 9 and Year 10 pupils, "it is happening today under your noses, but is rarely reported."
"There are between 30 and 50 incidents of anti-Semitism in Britain every single day, but it just doesn't receive the same media attention as racism against ethnicity or homophobia or Islamaphobia. Don't misunderstand me; they are all very important causes but our synagogues have to be guarded and our people live in fear of being attacked in the street."
Tracking the history of anti-Semitism from the middle ages through to the shocking inhumanity of the Holocaust to today's continuing trauma, Freddy earned a series of standing ovations from his young listeners.
Freddy previously taught Music and Religious Education before deciding to write his own lecture series based on his family's and his peoples' struggles. Though his own grandparents had the foresight to evacuate Germany in 1934 with his mother, then aged two, his great uncle and great aunt were gassed in Auschwitz and the unspoken horrors underpinned his own youth. Luckily his great grandmother survived the concentration camps.
"My family didn't talk about it, not in front of the children, but when I found out about the Holocaust I made it my mission to understand more."
His talk started with the burning to death of 300 Jews in a fortified fortress in York where they had sought sanctuary in 1190, after the age old lies had been spread of their bloodletting of children. It covered the execution of 18 Jewish souls in the Tower of London following the hysterical scapegoating blame for a child's death in Lincoln a century later and the subsequent banishment of all Jews from British shores for the next 350 years.
But the most powerful testimony was of the Holocaust and the disturbing notion that 1 in 10 people believe it never happened and over 50 per cent of people don't realise that "six million Jews and another five million Slavs, gypsies, homosexuals and disabled people were exterminated in Nazis Germany."
He quoted General Eisenhower on seeing the remains of hundreds of Jewish bodies burned alive before the Nazis fled. "Take all the photographs you can," the Liberator told the press, "because in years to come people will say this never happened."
His speech certainly left an impression on his audience: Abdullah Atif, 14, a bright young King's historian in Year 9, said: "I learned a lot of new things and was fascinated by the current issues. As a person of colour who follows a faith, it resonated with me."
Freddy, who has given over 160 lectures in British schools and is increasingly being asked to lecture online to global audiences, told the children "Many Jews don't believe we are the chosen people. It's just not true. Many believe we are just like anyone else and you must remember we are all in this together. We are all in this together."
King's Head of History Lianne Hughes said: "Following the Covid-19 restrictions, it is so valuable and refreshing to have external speakers back on site, sharing their views and experiences with the students. Freddy's lectures have left the students with a lot to think about- and will certainly enhance our discussions in the classroom in subsequent lessons. We are very grateful for him sharing his story with us."