On Friday 26th January 2024, students from Oasis Academy Coulsdon were invited to attend the local Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at Croydon Townhall. With addresses from the Civic Mayor, Councillor Tony Pearson, and speeches from Marilyn Arbisman from the Croydon Synagogue and Timothy Locke from Generation2Generation, the theme of this year was the ‘Fragility of Freedom’.
However, the highlight of the event for OAC students was seeing their peer be awarded first place in this year’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) competition. Students of Croydon were asked to create an artwork, a short story, poem, essay, or short film on this year’s theme, and Year 10 student, Chaniya Brooks, was announced as the winner at this year’s ceremony.
Chaniya was asked to read her short story at the ceremony at the townhall to the captivated audience, which included Ms John, Head of RE at OAC, who said “I am so proud of Chaniya, she spoke so eloquently in front of the audience at the Town Hall and her entry was truly moving; she was a very worthy winner”.
You can read Chaniya’s winning short story entry here:
The year was 1939 and the world was on the brink of war. In the midst of all the chaos, a young British woman, Elizabeth, had planned to visit her cousin, Anna, who lived in Germany. Despite the tensions between their countries, Elizabeth and Anna had always maintained a close relationship and Elizabeth was excited to spend some time with her cousin.
As she arrived in Germany, Elizabeth was immediately struck by the changes that had taken place. The streets were filled with Nazi flags and soldiers, and the once bustling city seemed to be in a state of fear and uncertainty. Anna's family had also been affected by the war, with her father being taken away to fight for the German army.
Elizabeth's visit with her cousin was cut short when the war officially broke out and the Nazi regime began their brutal persecution of the Jewish people. Anna's family, who were of Jewish descent, were forced to flee their home and go into hiding. Elizabeth, who had always been a strong and determined woman, refused to leave her cousin behind and decided to stay in Germany to help her family.
With her fluent German and her determination to help her cousin, Elizabeth took on a new identity and began working as a nurse in a nearby hospital. She used her position to gather information about her cousin's whereabouts and soon discovered that Anna and her family had been captured and taken to a concentration camp.
Despite the dangers, Elizabeth knew she had to find a way to rescue her cousin and her family. With the help of a group of resistance fighters, Elizabeth came up with a daring plan to sneak into the concentration camp and rescue Anna and her family.
Using her knowledge of the German language and her quick thinking, Elizabeth was able to successfully infiltrate the camp and rescue her cousin and her family. However, their escape was not without its challenges and they faced many close calls before finally making it to safety.
As the war raged on, Elizabeth and Anna's bond only grew stronger. They had both risked everything to save each other and their bravery and determination had brought them through the most difficult of times. Despite the horrors they had witnessed, they knew that their friendship would always be unbreakable.
Years later, as they looked back on their experiences, Elizabeth and Anna knew that they had been through a journey that would forever tie them together. They had faced the horrors of the holocaust together, and their love and determination had triumphed over the darkest of times.
However the holocaust that he had survived would always remain fragile in her heart, taunting her in her memories and sleep until the day she died.