A student and teacher from the Sixth Form Centre at Alderwasley Hall School, were delighted to have been selected to participate in the Lessons from Auschwitz (LFA) Project 2019. The project is run by the Holocaust Educational Trust and it comprised of four compulsory elements:
• Attendance at 2 seminars with young people from across The East Midlands (most of whom attend local mainstream schools)
• A full day excursion to Poland
• A presentation on what the young person has learnt from their experience
The first seminar was a half-day event where participants learnt about and discussed pre-war Jewish life; they listened to a first-hand extremely emotional testimony from a Holocaust survivor and they discussed the unique issues of preparing for a Holocaust-related site visit.
This seminar was followed by a visit to Poland on Wednesday 27th February. They left for East Midlands Airport at 4am. They flew from East Midlands Airport to Poland. Upon arrival at Krakow Airport they joined the other participants from the East Midlands Region on a bus journey to Oswiecim. The town had all of its Jewish population forcibly removed to facilitate Nazi occupation in 1939. The great synagogue has been burnt down and many of their previous Jewish residents were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz-Birkenau, which many had also helped to build. Since the war, the inhabitants have had to deal with economic problems and the stigma associated with genocide.
From there they went to Auschwitz-Birkenau which was the principal and most notorious of the concentration and extermination camps established by Nazi Germany with the intention to implement its Final Solution policy; which had as its aim the mass murder of the Jewish people in Europe. More than just a visit to Poland, the course was a journey of learning and exploration – about the history of the Holocaust and about the world we live in. The visit at Birkenau finished in the dark with a remembrance service led by other participants in the visit and a Rabbi. They then lit a candle in memory of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. They then returned to airport for their return flight home, finally arriving back at the Sixth Forma Centre around midnight.
The visit was followed up by a seminar on Tuesday evening on the 5th March, in Nottingham. This was a half-day seminar for participants to reflect on the visit, explore the contemporary relevance of the lessons of the Holocaust and devise practical ideas for passing on these lessons to Alderwasley Hall staff and students and the local community.
Next Steps – There is a display of photographs and details of the visit at the Sixth Form Centre. Members of the staff team and fellow students have been invited to a presentation at 3pm on Thursday, 4th April 2019. The presentation will be an opportunity to disseminate the lessons gained from the visit. Members of a local Historical group will also be invited to listen to this presentation at a later date which has still to be arranged. Although it was a very tiring and challenging experience in many areas it was also an unforgettable journey which they will both never forget.