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History visit to Auschwitz

 

History Visit to Auschwitz

Over St Andrew’s Day Short Leave, 38 D Block Historians, accompanied by five members of staff (Mr Hutton, Mrs Hutton, EAJ, ML and HAS) travelled to Poland to visit some of the key sites of the Holocaust, and learn more about an event which many call the nadir of human civilisation.

The Saturday was spent in and around the city of Krakow: we visited museums and synagogues in the Jewish quarter in Kazimierz to see what life for Polish Jews was like before the coming of the Nazis; we then walked to the location of the ghetto, the walled zone into which the Jewish population was forced to relocate in 1941, learning about the precarious life that this involved; and we also visited two other key sites – Oskar Schindler’s factory and Plaszow concentration camp.

Saturday evening was spent exploring the centre of Krakow – this marked an appropriate opportunity to take a short break after a long day of learning and reflection, and in advance of an even more demanding set of visits the next day.

Sunday was dedicated to Auschwitz. During the long journey there, the boys read through the handouts that had been prepared for them, including information on the development of the camps and testimonies by survivors. As the group walked through the main camp (Auschwitz I) and then across the expanse of Birkenau (Auschwitz II), the systematised Nazi process of brutality, dehumanisation, murder and plunder became apparent. Each visit concluded in a memorial ceremony, where we lit a candle and paused to reflect.

Before our departure on Monday morning, the group gathered to share thoughts on everything that we had seen and learnt. Contributions covered various aspects of the Holocaust: the role of the Allies; the importance of visiting such sites to fully grasp the way in which prisoners were robbed of their humanity; the need to understand the attitudes that could lead to such a situation; and the fact that genocidal acts are not, regrettably, a thing of the past.

HAS

DATE POSTED: 30 November 2009

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