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When offered the opportunity to go to Auschwitz with the Holocaust Education Trust on their programme, Lessons from Auschwitz, we were both excited to experience something so few people have experienced as well as being unaware of how this trip would affect us. Once on the plane the reality set in of what we were going to be visiting. 

There were many factors of the day that were heart-breaking and that you only experience once you are there and seeing it first-hand, for example there was a room that was the size of the Sports Hall which was half filled with female victim’s hair. The smell and atmosphere of the huts and rooms was something the educators couldn’t warn us about and this is 70 years after it had finally been used.

Before getting to Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz-Birkenau, we visited the only Jewish cemetery in Oswiecim, which had been destroyed while the town was under Nazi control and then later restored by the few remaining Jewish residents after the war. At the end of the day we had a memorial service with Rabbi Shaw, who spoke about his personal links with the Holocaust and how much this trip meant to him. His story about his grandfather’s last days, which were in Auschwitz, and how he never had the opportunity to meet him was both moving and shocking to hear and will stay with us for a very long time.

Zoe Priston and Faye Griffiths (Year 12)

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