Lessons from Auschwitz

Lessons from Auschwitz

“You can’t believe it happened until you get there, and you can’t really explain it when you get back!”  This is how Maxine Harrison sums up her trip to Auschwitz earlier this year.

Maxine, along with fellow History A level student, Marie Edwards were selected to go on the trip having applied by writing an essay on why they wanted to go.  Marie explains, “It was through the Gifted and Talented group that I heard about this opportunity.  We were encouraged to enter by Kathy Miller, a teacher who is always on the lookout for these great opportunities which support our learning.  I was really pleased to be selected; I love history and particularly like studying World Wars and Nazi Germany.”

The trip was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust and was preceded by a number of information sessions where Marie and Maxine were able to meet students from other schools and colleges who were also going on the trip.  At one of these sessions, they met 83 year old Susan Pollock, a holocaust survivor who talked candidly about her harrowing experience in which both her parents were killed and her brother went insane as a result of the work he had to do in the concentration camp.

As well as seeing the famous Auschwitz Gates, the girls were able to visit the military barracks, where medical experiments took place.  They also visited the gas chambers and the museum which contains many of the belongings of those who were killed including children’s shoes and toys.  “It was quite emotional,” explains Marie, “and to think that this only represents a very small proportion of those who suffered, as much of the evidence was destroyed.” 

Marie has her heart set on studying History at University and was able to talk about the trip on her University Application Form.  She concludes that, “From a practical point of view, this trip has really helped Maxine and I with our Kaiser - Fὕhrer work for A level history, but from an emotional point of view,  it really struck home to me that these people were individuals, with hopes and dreams of their own, just like us.”

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