Holocaust survivor Mayer Hersh retiring from public speaking
Mr Hersh has spent his adult life recounting his time in Auschwitz, to ensure the horrors are never repeated
Mayer Hersh has spent his adult life recounting his time in Auschwitz, to ensure the horrors are never repeated.
He is considered one of the most distinguished and inspirational figures in holocaust education in the country.
Mayers has talked to boys at The Manchester Grammar School for more than a decade, telling them of his harrowing experiences during the Second World War.
To commemorate his years of service at the school, and to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, a special portrait of Mayer was commissioned.
Photographer Nigel Maitland’s moving piece will now adorn the school’s walls.
The 88-year-old was just 12 when the Nazis seized him – along with his brother Jakob – in 1940, after invading his native Poland a year earlier.
The pair were thrown into a string of concentration camps before eventually ending up in Auschwitz three years later.
Mayer was finally freed from the camp by the Russians in 1945 – by then a ‘filthy, emaciated skeleton’ suffering from typhus.
He has been raising awareness of Europe’s darkest era ever since.
Mayer and Jakob were the only survivors of a family of eight.
Mayer now lives in Heathlands Village care home, in Prestwich, having settled in Manchester after the war.
He was handed an MBE in 2013 - nearly 70 years after the horrific events.
Andy Smith, pastoral deputy head at The Manchester Grammar School, said: “The educational opportunity for our pupils of listening to Mayer cannot be overestimated.
“Mayer was able to offer our pupils an unsparing account of what it was like to be a boy in the middle of these terrible events in European history at a very similar age to themselves.
“Mayer’s recollections of how he spent his youth in Nazi concentration camps remains seared in the memory of everyone who has listened to him.
“His personal story of quiet endurance and stoicism is both deeply moving and spiritually uplifting.
“Mayer’s deep generosity, good humour and ‘old world’ courtesy made those who met him feel special.
“Many of our boys have been moved to write letters to him after hearing him speak at MGS.”