THE next generation was reminded of the atrocities of the Holocaust yesterday as one survivor visited a school to tell students of her own personal experience.

Year 8 and 9 pupils at Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College were stunned into silence as Joanna Millan told her story.

The 76-year-old was born Bela Rosenthal to a Jewish family in Berlin, in August 1942.

Just six months later her father was taken to Auschwitz and murdered on arrival and only months later, the infant and her mother were sent to the Terezin Ghetto near Prague.

Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was just 18 months old, leaving her an oprhan.

In 1945, The Red Cross took over control of the camp and Bela was liberated by the Russians.

She was flown to England with five other orphans and was eventually adopted by a Jewish couple living in London.

Her name was changed to Joanna and she was brought up with a new identity and urged not to talk about the past as her new parents pretended she was their natural daughter.

It was only when she was in her early 40s that she was encouraged to discover her past and with the help of her husband, she has now managed to reconnect with the five children she was transported with as well as find living relations all over the world.

Mrs Millan, who has three children and eight grandchildren of her own, now travels around the country about her experience so people do not forget the genocide.

Speaking at the school yesterday, she told pupils she was "angry" that people and governments did not intervene sooner but that she had never been "bitter".

"Everybody knew what was going on, it was widely reported in all the newspapers including in Britain," she said. "Governments were told but the response was always 'It's a German internal problem'. They had the technology to bomb the gas chambers but it was not a priority.

"There have been many genocides before and after the Holocaust and each one is awful - each person suffers."

She added: "We have to do better. My children's generation ahve not managed to sort it but maybe your generation can do better.

Mrs Millan's visit was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Assistant headteacher, Steve Handley, said the school was honoured to have such a special visitor.

He said: "In a few years time when these kids have children, there won't be anyone left to tell their children and I can in front of a classroom and tell them all about the Holocaust but having someone who had this happen to them is much more real for the students."

He added: "They have all been listening very carefully and it's so important for them to hear about it. We are very grateful that she has made this journey."

Mrs Millan also spoke at High Tunstall College of Science, in Hartlepool, on Thursday before returning to her home in London.

For more information about the Holocaust Educational Trust visit