Monday 8th July 2019

Lessons from Auschwitz – Next Steps

Each year King Ed’s takes part in the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' project run by the Holocaust Education Trust. Two students are selected to attend a 4-part programme which involves meeting a Holocaust Survivor, a visit to Poland to see the town of Oswiecim and the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, a follow up session and then planning and delivering of ‘next steps’.

This year Sarah Astill and Mashal Shakeel took part and for their next steps they have put together a display board which is now on display in the Frank Foley building, which students and staff are welcome to visit. They will also be involved in planning our Holocaust Memorial Day events for next year, and in briefing and selecting next year’s participants.

Lessons from Auschwitz – A student reflection

'I began my LFA journey unsure of what I would take away and how it would affect me. I took part as it gave me an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the history and events that unfolded during the Holocaust, yet it gave me so much more.

The first meeting gave me a grounding into the history of Judaism and the life of a Jew around the time of 1939. I began to realise how personal this would make the Holocaust to me. Learning about the Holocaust in history lessons you, of course, feel sympathy to the victims however you only really learn statistics, not the personal stories- it made it so more human. Learning that Jews, the disabled, travellers, homosexuals, Soviet citizens, Poles, Serbs, Romanians, Freemasons, Slovenes, Spanish Republicans and Jehovah's Witnesses were all brought to camps to essentially be slaughtered was shocking. Hearing Zigi Shipper's own account and experience also made how many individuals lives were affected stand out. 

The only word to describe visiting the camps is shocking. It makes the Holocaust so real and raw. I found it so difficult to comprehend how humans could be so inhumane and purely evil to other people over their personal beliefs or disabilities. Having to see all the photos of the victims and noticing different members of different families was truly horrific. Additionally, the rooms in the Auschwitz camp which showed the starvation and experiments that the Nazi's compelled onto over nine million people was so horrific I found it difficult to even look at the photos. When visiting the Auschwitz Birkenau camp we heard several stories from individuals. Personally, the story that upset me the most was when we standing where the tracks run into the camp and we heard how a victim was separated from his family in the very spot we were standing and didn't know what was happening or what would happen. I found it so difficult to comprehend being split apart from your family and not knowing your fate.

I had only begun to really take in all that we had witnessed upon our last meeting. This gave me the chance to reflect and review what I had seen and how I felt. It made me feel guilty for the lifestyle I have now and how much I take for granted. Why should I have such an amazing and easy lifestyle when millions of people were killed for their beliefs?

It is so important to learn about the Holocaust now to give respect to those who suffered and died during the Holocaust and keep their memory going. I believe we have a duty to keep their testimonies alive to prevent and stop events like this occurring in the future.
For my Next Steps Project, I chose to collate several testimonies and display them in my college canteen or reception. Through doing this is it makes it apparent to my peers how similar our emotions, family and many more parts of our lives are. It struck my friends and peers on how much of an impersonal level we learn about the Holocaust and brought it home that if it happened now, to us that we'd all be affected in horrific ways.'

by Sarah Astill

Next event:

Carol Service 7:00pm on 12th December 2019

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