Friday 13 Dec 2013
To mark this year's Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, CBBC's Blue Peter helps to bring an understanding of the Holocaust to the under-12s as presenter Joel Defries takes a personal and emotional journey to discover more about his family history and being Jewish.
Joel's family came to the UK in the 18th century from Holland, Russian-occupied Poland and Lithuania.
An extremely poignant part of his journey is meeting a Holocaust survivor, Freda Wineman, and returning with her as she goes to Auschwitz in Poland for the first time in over 60 years.
For Joel, it was a memorable experience: "Going to Auschwitz was a real eye opener and an amazing thing to do because Holocaust survivors are few and far between. Meeting Freda gave me an insight like no other – and I felt privileged to go back with her. I think that her story will bring a real understanding of all of our histories to children."
In the programme, Joel experiences some of the things that make up modern Jewish life in Britain. He meets a Jewish family as they show him how they celebrate the Sabbath (the holy day for Jewish people), attends a Bat Mitzvah and he spends time with one of the UK's leading Torah.
Joel also heads to the East End of London – once home for many of the Jewish immigrants in Britain – where he pays a visit to some of the places his ancestors lived and worked, including Sandys Row, one of London’s oldest Synagogues.
But the pinnacle of Joel's journey is when he meets Freda Wineman – a Holocaust survivor.
Originally from France, where she lived with her mother, father and three brothers, Freda's life was turned upside down when the Nazis invaded France in 1940.
Desperate to escape, her family went on the run and left everything behind. By 1942 they were hiding in their own country, living in constant fear of capture. Freda's family had been living in secret for two years when the secret police finally tracked them down. Her brothers attempted to escape but, along with the rest of the family, they were caught and sent to Auschwitz.
In the film, Freda recounts the horrendous three-day-long journey they took to the biggest death camp in Europe.
Tragically, out of the six people in her family who went there, only three survived.
After the war, Freda came to Britain – and hasn't been back to Poland since she left in the Forties, until now.
Blue Peter: Joel's Journey will transmit on CBBC on BBC One at 4.35pm on Tuesday 27 January 2009 and is repeated the following morning at 8.30am on the CBBC channel.
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