Oban High teacher helps Holocaust survivor share story

Mr Wuga met 10 S2 pupils from Shawlands Academy, Glasgow, under the clock at Central Station, where he first arrived in Scotland. That was followed by a discussion between Henry and the students about his experiences, the Holocaust, and modern child refugees to Scotland.

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Former Jewish-German child refugee Henry Wuga MBE, who came to Glasgow with the Kindertransport, returned to Central Station on Friday May 6 to launch a new school learning programme, created by a teacher from Oban High.

Mr Wuga, 98, joined Oban High School history and modern studies teacher Alison McFarlane, Poppyscotland and Gathering the Voices to help launch new lessons for Scottish schools, based on his story and that of other young refugees during the Second World War.

Miss McFarlane has been working with him and the charities to develop the lessons, encouraging pupils to reflect on these incredible stories and on the issues facing more recent child refugees, including millions of Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country today.

Aged just 15, Mr Wuga escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany in 1939, leaving his parents behind in Nuremberg. He went on to make Scotland his home, marrying Ingrid, who also escaped via the Kindertransport, and managing his own catering business.

Mr Wuga met 10 S2 pupils from Shawlands Academy under the clock at Central Station, where he first arrived in Scotland. That was followed by a discussion between Henry and the students about his experiences, the Holocaust, and modern child refugees to Scotland.

Mr Wuga, 98, joined Oban High School history and modern studies teacher Alison McFarlane, Poppyscotland and Gathering the Voices to help launch new lessons for Scottish schools, based on his story and that of other young refugees during the Second World War.

The school has piloted Poppyscotland’s 10 lesson activity pack, written by Alison McFarlane. The engaging and factual content focuses on the video testimonies of three Kindertransport escapees and Holocaust survivors, Mr Wuga, Rosa Sacharin and Karola Regent.

Miss McFarlane said: ‘It has been an incredible opportunity to work with the charities and Henry Wuga. This project is incredibly important to raise awareness of not only the Holocaust but ongoing issues such as discrimination and prejudice.

‘The series of lessons follows several individuals who have all survived the Holocaust, but each have unique stories. It follows the survivors – from their lives before the Nazis came to power, facing discrimination in Germany, escaping on KinderTransport and then settling down to a new life in Britain.

‘Considering the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, this topic is incredibly relevant. The opportunity for students to learn directly from the testimonies has been a rewarding experience and really brings learning to life.

‘It’s taken several months to develop these resources – from PowerPoints, to worksheets and interactive activities. There are 10 lessons and they can be taught in a series, or as stand alone topics e.g. Kindertransport or Refugee Crisis. Each lesson has been developed in a way that they are accessible to everyone – no matter the ability or access to technology – and are ready to be picked up and used by any teacher.

‘The course has had a trial run with all S2s in Oban High School and there has been a really good response. Students have really enjoyed interacting with the resources and getting to hear from survivors themselves – this is something we cannot take for granted.’

Mr Wuga said: ‘It was very interesting meeting the pupils and answering their questions. I think it’s so important to share my story with a new generation while I can.

‘When I first arrived here 83 years ago it was a shock – I didn’t speak the language well, the food and customs were new. But Glasgow was very welcoming and I made it my home.’

Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland’s head of fundraising and learning, said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to Mr Wuga for supporting us and sharing his harrowing story with a new generation of Scottish children. His first-hand testimony is an important addition to our learning programme and will encourage young people to reflect on issues that are all too relevant today.

‘Sadly, millions of children throughout the world continue to be uprooted from their homes, escaping war, persecution, and poverty. We hope this will promote a wider understanding of refugees’ experiences, then and now, the challenges they face when arriving in Scotland.’

The Gathering the Voices Association is a project to record audio and video testimonies from Holocaust refugees who have a connection to Scotland, and educate current and future generations about their resilience. It is made up of three ‘second generation’ refugees and their partners, who have collected more than 50 interviews which are freely available at www.gatheringthevoices.com.

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Caption: Mr Wuga, 98, joined Oban High School history and modern studies teacher Alison McFarlane, Poppyscotland and Gathering the Voices to help launch new lessons for Scottish schools, based on his story and that of other young refugees during the Second World War.

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Caption: Mr Wuga met 10 S2 pupils from Shawlands Academy, Glasgow, under the clock at Central Station, where he first arrived in Scotland. That was followed by a discussion between Henry and the students about his experiences, the Holocaust, and modern child refugees to Scotland.

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Dr Angela Shapiro, from the Gathering the Voices Association said: ‘We hope that by focusing on the stories of Mr Wuga and other young refugees, this will help bring the lessons to life. Young people can learn about the Holocaust and the resilience of the refugees who escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe, and the lessons we can all learn from those who lived through it.’

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Aged just 15, as a Jewish-German child refugee, Henry Wuga MBE escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany in 1939, leaving his parents behind in Nuremberg. He went on to make Scotland his home, marrying Ingrid, who also escaped via the Kindertransport, and managing his own catering business.