Nuns used anti-Semitic threats while beating boy of Jewish descent, inquiry told
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Nuns used anti-Semitic threats while beating boy of Jewish descent, inquiry told

Witness is 'haunted' by memories at Smyllum Park in Lanark during the 1940s and 1950s due to the abuse

A witness, who was at Smyllum Park in Lanark during the 1940s and 1950s, said he is "haunted" by memories of his time at the facility.
A witness, who was at Smyllum Park in Lanark during the 1940s and 1950s, said he is "haunted" by memories of his time at the facility.

Nuns at an orphanage used anti-Semitic threats while beating a boy of Jewish descent, an inquiry has heard.

The witness, who was at Smyllum Park in Lanark during the 1940s and 1950s, said he is “haunted” by memories of his time at the facility.

He told how he is still “scared” of nuns, to the extent he could not watch the film comedy Sister Act with his daughter.

His submissions were heard at the Scottish child abuse inquiry in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Although he did not know of his Jewish heritage at the time, having entered the home at a very young age, he said it was referred to while he was beaten on a number of occasions.

The witness said: “The nuns would say ‘we will beat the Jewishness out of you’.

“If you consider what Hitler did during the war – it was just after that period. I don’t think I was beaten because I was Jewish, it’s just an expression that was used.”

The man’s parents had come to the UK to flee Nazis in Europe but were unable to look after him.

According to the witness, he only found out he had parents on the day his mother collected him to take him home years later.

He also told how one boy was never seen again having been punished for playing football at the home, formerly run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

On a winter Sunday, he and a few boys had been kicking a ball about when nuns saw them committing the “sin” on the holy day.

The inquiry heard how they were stripped, beaten with a strap and made to stand outside for a number of hours.

When they went back to their dormitory for bed, he said one of his friends had been crying about how cold he was.

In the morning he was no longer there and never seen again by the witness.

He added: “There were rumours he had pneumonia, it still haunts me to this day what might have happened to him.”

Other accounts of his time at the home include a worker touching boys’ genitals to “check” if they had wet the bed and being beaten for being left-handed.

On a number of occasions he said he was made to eat onions he had vomited after being force-fed them.

The witness said he was taking part in the inquiry so children do not have similar experiences to him in care.

He added: “People still talk about the Holocaust, but why are we still talking about it?

“It’s because it’s part of the world’s history and hope that things like this don’t happen again.

“I’m not looking for retribution in any way, I just want the world to know what happened at this place and that children in homes today don’t have to go through what we went through.”

The inquiry before Lady Smith continues.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments