Marr College Newsletter 04 - Page 19

Issue Number 04 | November 2019 Lessons from Auschwitz Written by Samantha Wight, S6 Oświęcim is a small town, located in southern Poland an hour from Kraków. However, it is more commonly known by its German name, Auschwitz. I was given the chance to represent the school in the Lessons from Auschwitz programme, and on the 7 th of November flew out to Poland for the day. Our day started with a visit to the town of Oświęcim, which before the Holocaust had a thriving Jewish community. This was to show the extent of their integration into society before the Holocaust, and the damage that had been permanently done to the European Jewish population due to the Nazis. The camp Auschwitz showcased some of the possessions which the Jews had brought with them to the camp; and seeing the masses of shoes, children clothes, and simple household items was eye- opening to the more human side of the Holocaust. We also went into a reconstruction of the first gas chamber used there, a surreal and upsetting experience. Another featured exhibition in Auschwitz promoted hope, as it showed the families of survivors. Auschwitz Birkenau was a lot bleaker. The second camp was much quieter, the scale and size of it a surprise. The reconstructed huts, and the rubble that remained from destroyed gas chambers, were an upsetting reminder of how meticulously planned out the genocide of millions was. 18 A memorial at the camp featured a plaque, which read: “For ever let this place be A cry of despair And a warning to humanity Where the Nazis murdered About one and a half million Men, women and children, mainly Jews From various countries of Europe.” When the sun set, we participated in a candlelight memorial led by a Rabbi to pay respect to everyone who had sadly lost their lives there. Now the trip is over, the Lessons from the Auschwitz programme has left it up to those who participated to pass on what we learnt that day in Poland and teach others that this level of tragedy simply cannot happen again.