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Holocaust Memorial Day

Last Saturday (26th January) was Holocaust Memorial Day, where we remember the six million Jews murdered in the Second World War and others in subsequent genocides. After the war there was an massive humanitarian effort to help the abandoned survivors, many of whom were close to death. From an Emanuel School point of view we would also like to remember the valuable contribution of Dr David Philip Bowler (OE1935-42) who was one of the first medical relief staff to enter the notorious Bergen Belsen concentration camp once it had been liberated on 15th April 1945.

Bowler was an outstanding schoolboy who was captain of the school, captain of Drake house, rowed for the school, and played for the 1st XV in both 1941 and 1942. He was also an evacuee, with his final two and a half years of schooling at Petersfield. During the war David studied medicine at Westminster Hospital, punctured by periods abroad and basic nursing duties tending the wounded and invalided where required. In Bergen Belsen he would have witnessed horrific scenes of emaciated bodies contorted by diseases such as typhus, TB, gastroenteritis and enteritis in addition to patients being severely dehydrated and suffering from starvation, many of which were beyond saving. The 21-year-old David returned to Emanuel later in 1945 to give a talk to current pupils about the non-military and humanitarian aspects after the end of the war. David worked as a doctor all his life and was awarded the Advance Australia Award for his contribution to medicine after emigrating to that country.

Over the last ten years talks by Holocaust survivors in schools, including Emanuel, have slowly petered out, as most remaining survivors are now too elderly or were mere children when they were in the camps.

Mr Jones (Senior Librarian & Archivist)