Two sixth formers have spoken of an emotional trip to Auschwitz.
Ella Gritton and George McVeigh visited the former Nazi extermination camp in a trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz project.
The project is a four-part course which explores universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance to today.
Students took part in a preparation day, during which they met a Holocaust survivor and learnt about what life was like for the Jewish community before the Holocaust.
A few weeks later Ella and George made the journey to Auschwitz where they started the trip by visiting a pre-war Jewish site in a Polish town, where they learnt more about the victims’ lives. They also visited several barracks at Auschwitz 1 before going to Birkenau, where the vast majority of victims were murdered.
George, 16, said he thought it was important that people learnt from what happened at Auschwitz.
He said: “I enjoy History and going to Auschwitz is something that I’ve always wanted to do. It went beyond what I expected and it was a lot to take in. I think it is important that we learn from history and how people have still not really learnt from what happened.”
Ella, 16, said the trip was a life-changing experience for her.
She said: “We learnt about what happened at Auschwitz when we did our GCSEs but this gave us the opportunity to see the humanity, and the inhumanity, behind it.
“We visited different blocks at Auschwitz 1 and we saw rooms where they’d kept hair, shoes and belongings from the prisoners. There were also lots of pictures of them. We saw the gas chambers and the place where prisoners had to remove their clothes and were shaved. We also saw the book of names which was just massive sheets of paper filled with millions of names of people who had died.
“We took part in a memorial service where we lit candles and that was about how there is so much hate in the world but there is light. I think that made me realise that we were there for a reason, to make sure that more people understand what happened. It was definitely a life-changing trip.”
Mr Gritton said: “This is such a valuable experience for our students which helps them to come to terms with the reality of what actually happened at Auschwitz and hopefully they will be able to share their experience with fellow students.”