History GCSE: Frank Bright recounts the fate of his former classmates

Frank Bright discusses his work researching the fate of his former classmates, using a class photograph taken in 1942 which he calls ‘Red for Dead’.

By documenting the fates of his former classmates, Frank hopes to keep their memories alive. Frank himself can be clearly seen in the class photo, along with the other children.

Frank has spent years researching and recording the fate of every person in the picture, as well as that of their parents and siblings.

Using red and blue squares, he has marked who survived and who was killed.

If it is a blue mark, the person survived. Whereas a red mark means they were killed. Most of the marks are red.

For each person in the picture, he has painstakingly documented where they were transported to, the number of people they were transported with and how many from that transport were killed. Of the 131 people identified by Frank, 107 were killed by the Nazis.

The Nazis kept detailed records of their actions during the Holocaust, including where individuals were transported, which camps they were held in and who was killed.

Frank was born in Berlin, Germany. He survived several concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Theresienstadt.

In 1938, at the age of 10, his family moved to Czechoslovakia for their own safety - Germany had become incredibly dangerous for Jews by that time. There he attended a Jewish School with other Austrian and German refugees.

This class photograph was taken in Prague’s Jewish School in May 1942. All of the children in the photograph can be seen wearing the star of David, which were mandatory and marked them out as Jews. By August 1943, all Jewish schools had been closed.

This clip is from the BBC series, The Last Survivors.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your students.

Teacher Notes

Do you think that Frank’s work researching this photograph is an effective way of commemorating his classmates?

How important do you think it is to remember the individuals who were killed in the Holocaust? Rather than focusing on the total numbers of people killed.

Are you surprised by the level of detail Frank has been able to obtain? He knows the transports, the numbers in each, how many were killed. Consider the value of the research that Frank has done into the transportation. Use his work as a way to learn about how the Nazis documented their actions during the Holocaust.

To what extent do you think Frank’s work has been a way for him to cope with surviving the Holocaust, when others didn’t?

Use Frank’s work as a way to look further into how Jews were identified using the Star of David, and the stages by which Jewish children were separated in schools from non-Jews.

Use Frank’s work to examine how Jews were transported by the Nazis and the different camps and ghettos that people were taken to.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching history at GCSE and above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 and above in Scotland.

More from The Last Survivors

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch addresses German Parliament
Maurice Blik confronts the impact of his experiences
Manfred Goldberg confronts the death of his brother
Ivor Perl returns to Auschwitz with his daughter
Sam Dresner grapples with his memories of the Holocaust