Eighty-nine-year-old Austrian Harry Bibring gaveamoving talk to nearly 200 Higher and Standard Grade humanities pupils last Thursday.
Explaining his visit, Harry, who now lives in south London, said: “After my wife died I decided to commit my life to this, to giving talks, especially to school children.
“I want to teach people how powerful discrimination is.”
The Jewish pensioner gives up to 60 talks every school year and has been as far as Inverness and Aberdeen to share his story. Harry was born in 1925, in Vienna, and his father owned a clothing shop.
In November 1938 the family business was destroyed during Kristallnacht, also referred to as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, and Harry’s father was arrested soon after.
Harry was transferred to a school that permitted Jews to attend after his school report instructed that because of his faith he must leave.
He said: “My non-Jewish friends just dropped me. They disappeared from my life after that.
What shocked me most was that the teachers, these intelligent people, they did not protest against this dismissal, it was bad for their careers.”
Shortly afterwards Harry’s parents arranged for him and his sister, Greta, to flee to the United Kingdom onaKindertransport train, where they would be sponsored by a family friend.
Harry was schooled in London for a short time before being evacuated to the country. He kept in touch with his parents until their deaths early on in the war.
When he turned 14 he returned to London and thanks to night schooling he went on to become an engineer and eventuallyalecturer, but foralong time said little about his past life.
Afteralocal rabbi invited him to speak at a nearby school, Harry started speaking out more and says the talks keep him going.
Reacting, Lockerbie sixth year pupil Molly Mccutcheon said the talk was interesting and she really enjoyed it.
Fifth year Ross Boyle added: “It was harrowing, really harrowing to hear, but at the same time very interesting.