A HUNGARIAN Holocaust survivor has shared his experiences with over 200 secondary school children at Durham Cathedral.

The pupils heard of how Tomi Komoly’s family was torn apart during the Second World War, when his father was called up to the forced labour unit of the Hungarian Army to fight on the Soviet front.

After the introduction of anti-Jewish laws in 1944, Tomi and his mother were forced to move into a safe house in a walled ghetto.

Realising they were anything but safe, Tomi and his mother went into hiding with a protestant family in the suburbs.

The pair finally managed to escape as the ghetto was liberated by the advancing Soviet army in January 1945.

Mr Komoly, now 83, said: “I feel an enormous obligation as a survivor, who is still fit and able to travel, to share my experience in places like this, with the younger generation, so they can learn to be tolerant and to be brave enough to speak up about any injustices they may see.

“This year, the theme of the Holocaust Memorial commemorations is ‘standing together’.

“I hope that by addressing pupils I have helped to spread the message that together, we can challenge hate crime, anti-semitism and persecution simply by joining forces with our neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.

“We all have a duty to do that.”

Prior to hearing Tomi’s harrowing testimony as part of Holocaust Memorial Day today, the schoolchildren participated in a morning of workshops with the cathedral’s education team, to gain a better understand of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

The focus of this year’s sessions were around the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide.

The workshops formed part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s wider programme of events across the county to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in schools and universities.

When asked why the day was so important, Harry Fortune, a Shotton Hall pupil, said: “It means a lot. It is so important that were all educated about the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust.

“While I already knew a bit about the genocide, I didn’t know any great detail about the experiences of those living through it.

“Events like this mean that young people like myself get to learn about the experiences of the Jewish people and those experiences are as important as ever to shine a light on.”