A HOLOCAUST survivor gave children an insight into the horrors of Nazi Germany when she told them how, as a girl, she had been attacked on her way to school and driven out of her home.

Thea Hurst, 76, spoke to pupils at Ivy Bank High School as part of the build-up to national Holocaust Day on Sunday.

The event was organised by the history department. Acting head of history Hazel Broadfield said: "The material shown to the children was very powerful and the first-hand account from a survivor reinforced those images."

Thea was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1925 but was forced to flee the country in 1939 along with her mother and thousands of other Jewish people.

For her the memories of what took place as Hitler rose to power remain vivid in her mind.

She remembers terrifying trips to school when new laws passed by the Nazi party made it legal for Jews to be attacked in the street.

She said: "We were recognised because we went to a Jewish school. We had to travel in groups, children and adults together, to protect ourselves from attack." As fears in the Jewish community mounted, Thea's mother decided to flee the country.

"My mother and I joined my father in Warsaw in 1939 after he left. We were in England waiting for immigration to the USA when the war broke out." Thea and her mother fought in vain to get the rest of the family out of Nazi-occupied Poland, but their struggle was in vain. They became trapped in one of the infamous ghettos and were eventually transferred to the Treblinka concentration camp where they were killed.

Since then Thea has remained in Britain. She has lived in Manchester, London and Lancaster, but her home is now in Hebden Bridge. She regularly gives talks to schoolchildren on the horrors of what many consider to be the most shameful chapter of the 20th century.

"The idea is that children will learn to respect other people and not have prejudices and to be tolerant towards people of other nationalities.

"I hope that the personal example of my story, which is also the story of many of my generation, will help children to get a better perspective."

During her talk to the year-nine pupils, Thea told of not being allowed to play in a park, or sit on public benches, of doctors, lawyers and teachers losing their jobs, of Jewish people living inside Germany becoming a "separate entity".

Thea estimates that 150 members of her extended family perished under Nazism. In Leipzig, only 14 of the 25,000 Jewish population survived.

She hopes that by educating the children of today, a repeat of the past can be avoided.