80 Trees for 80 Years

by | May 9, 2022 | Ackworth School

Tree Planting Ceremony at Ackworth School, April 28th, 2022

Holocaust Remembrance Day this year fell on Thursday 28th April. At Ackworth School we were lucky enough to be joined by very special guest, Ruth Barnett. Ruth was rescued from Germany by the Quakers and spent several years at the Friends School in Saffron Walden, Essex.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Ackworth School took in a number of Jewish children who were escaping from Nazi tyranny in Europe.  They were sponsored by the Society of Friends. Most were boarders though some lodged with families in the village.

The first to arrive was Hans Freutel from Berlin on 18th September, 1935. From then on, a steady stream of boys and girls arrived at the school from Vienna, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin and Poland. Rudi Schaffer, son of Oscar and Else who both died in the Holocaust, came to Ackworth in May, 1939 via the ‘Kindertransport ‘.

Ruth Barnett, MBE and Anton Maree, Head

To mark this, the Association of Jewish Refugees selected the school to receive a commemorative tree among 79 other sites nationwide as part of their 80th Anniversary commemorations. We were pleased to welcome Ruth Barnett MBE to the school on April 28th to plant our tree. This coincided with the Jewish community’s annual day for remembering the Holocaust. Ruth escaped to this country as a 4 year old and spent the war years at our sister school, Friends’ School Saffron Walden. A time capsule containing details of Ruth’s life was planted at the same time.


Members of Year 9 had the opportunity to listen to Dr. George Dublon’s account of the fate of his German Jewish family as they are about to begin their study of the Holocaust in History lessons.

A beautiful copper beech is now flourishing in the peaceful surroundings of Great Garden to remind us of those lives that were lost to tyranny, and of those who were saved. Hans Freutel became a well known actor (Paul Hansard) and Rudi Schaffer became a world renowned psychologist specialising in child psychology.



Rudi Schaffer 1943, arrived 1939 aged 12 and Hans Freutel 1938, arrived 1935 aged 13