Tracy Brabin MP and around 200 students from schools and colleges across the Yorkshire and the Humber, including representatives from Batley Girls School Sahira and Zahila, and teacher Zara, and from Heckmondwike Grammar Logiga and Katie, have visited the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Government funded project is based on the premise that “hearing is not like seeing”. On the visit, students first visited Oświęcim, the town where the Nazi concentration and death camp was located and where, before the war, 58% of the population was Jewish. Students then visited Auschwitz I to see the former camp’s barracks and crematoria and witnessed the piles of belongings that were seized by the Nazis. Finally they spent time at the main killing centre of Birkenau where the day concluded with candle lighting and a period of reflection to remember the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and the other victims of Nazi persecution.
The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was preceded by a seminar in the UK where participants were introduced to Jewish life in Europe before the Second World War and heard the testimony of a Holocaust survivor. Following the visit, the students will attenda seminar to reflect on the visit and discuss their personal responses to it. The fourth part of the project requires all students to pass on what they have learned in their schools and wider community, becoming Ambassadors for the Holocaust Educational Trust. They are supported by the Trust’s Ambassador Programme. In this way, as many people as possible benefit from the Lessons from Auschwitz Project.
Government funding has enabled the Trust to facilitate regional visits to Auschwitz, as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz Project, for thousands of students each year.
Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen said:
“One cannot overstate the importance of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and of recognising the full extent of the industrialised nature of the Holocaust.
“It’s important that everyone in our community recognises the importance of being tolerant and of celebrating our differences. We must always tackle anti-Semitism and racism wherever we find it. On the day that we travelled to Auschwitz, the news reached us that Ken Livingstone has not been expelled from the Labour Party for his anti-Semitic comments. The decision shames us, and I support calls for the decision to be reconsidered.
“I look forward to seeing how the students will communicate their experience to their peers and their community. I hope that this will ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten and that its lessons are truly learnt, disseminated and acted upon.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:
“We are delighted that Tracy was able to join us on the visit. The Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project is such a vital part of our work because it allows young people to learn about the Holocaust in a way they cannot in the classroom. The Holocaust was a defining episode in history, and this visit enables young people to see for themselves where racism, prejudice and antisemitism can ultimately lead.”