Harrogate High School WW2 interviews

This story was published 8 May 2020

Harrogate High School have interviewed those who lived through the war to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.


Before lockdown affected us all we were planning a series of activities and events to remember VE Day and mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Harrogate High School was part of these plans and received support from North Yorkshire County Council chairman Cllr Jim Clark, to launch the creation of a district wide video archive of reminiscences of those who lived through the war.

Cllr Clark supported Harrogate High School with funding from his locality grant to enable students to have the experience of conducting, recording and editing video interviews. Students had the wonderful opportunity to interview two special guests: Arek Hersh, a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp, and Sheila Pantin, who was involved in the British liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April, 1945.

Cllr Clark hopes that “these interviews are the first of what I hope will be many produced by schools throughout North Yorkshire.”

Geraldine Potts, history teacher leading the project said "this has been an invaluable experience for our students. To actually hear first hand recollections of what these two remarkable people went through during the Second World War was something all of us involved will remember.  It was very emotional at times; a privilege to hear their stories and help to document this on film for the future.

Students involved said it was amazing to meet such inspirational people that had been through so much. They hope we will be able to carry out more interviews in the future."

Catherine Wright, School Development Officer said “The opportunity for students to hear stories and experiences first hand has been quite remarkable. We urge other schools in the District to take part in this project and record conversations with family members or people they can make contact with that have first-hand experience of living through the Second World War. This is the time to document these important stories for the future so we can learn from the past and prevent what this this generation went through from happening again in the future. ”

Although this is difficult in the current lockdown situation, perhaps if you have a family member who lived through the Second World War, you could talk take this opportunity to talk to them and document their stories and help add to this archive?

Watch the interviews