The visit was a unique opportunity to see what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau, to pay respect to those who lost their lives, and to explore the universal lessons of the Holocaust. The group was shown around the camp’s barracks and crematoria, and witnessed the registration documents of inmates, piles of hair, shoes, clothes and other items seized by the Nazis. They were then taken the short distance to Birkenau where a memorial and candle-lighting service was held to remember the 6 million Jews, and the Roma, Sinti, gay, disabled, black people, and other victims of the Nazis killed in the Holocaust.
On Monday 21st September, the pupils will attend a follow-up seminar at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to discuss their experiences and the impact the visit had on them.
The Holocaust Education Trust works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource material.
Commenting, Jo said:
“Actually visiting Auschwitz was a haunting experience and I found it very poignant being in the place where such atrocities took place. It is an incredibly worthwhile programme which the Holocaust Education Service provides, especially as the problems of hatred and violence are still very much present in today’s world. Hearing about ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Darfur, one concludes that the human race has not learned from its mistakes. It is vitally important that we continue to learn about the Holocaust, and I’m sure the pupils who came on this trip will pass the message on to their classmates.”
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:
“We are delighted that Jo Swinson joined us on the visit with students from her constituency. The Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project is such a vital part of our work because it gives students the chance to understand more the dangers and potential effects of prejudice and racism today on a local and national scale.”