Amber Valley pupils’ emotional trip to Auschwitz

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Two students from Amber Valley Sixth Form have spoken of an emotional trip to Auschwitz as part of a course aimed at exploring lessons learnt from the Holocaust.

Eleanor Crowther and Amber Barras, both 17, 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 the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance to today and is based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing.’

Students took part in a preparation day in Nottingham, during which they spoke to a Holocaust survivor and learnt about what life was like for the Jewish community before the Holocaust.

A few weeks later they embarked on their visit to Poland and started their day by seeing a pre-war Jewish site in the Polish town of Oswiecim, where they learnt more about the victims’ lives.

Sites that were visited include several barracks at Auschwitz 1 before going to Birkenau, where the vast majority of victims were murdered.

Eleanor said: “When we arrived at Auschwitz 1 we saw the trees that the prisoners had planted and we saw photos of them, when they arrived their life expectancy was three months.

“I think the most emotional part for me was seeing the photos of the prisoners who had been at Auschwitz 1 for three months, they looked so thin and drawn.”

Amber said: “Birkenau was massive. We went into two huts and we went inside one of the toilet huts and we were told that the prisoners actually preferred to work in there.

“We heard from a Rabbi who was very passionate when he spoke. He compared our lives to the prisoners’ lives. We went to the selection area where prisoners would arrive in a carriage and that is probably the last place that they would see their families. We saw the Sauna Building which is where prisoners had to leave their belongings and have their hair shaved off. I think this trip has just changed my view on things and my way of thinking.”

Both students will now be working on delivering assemblies about their trip to fellow students at The Ripley Academy.

Steve Richardson, Director of Learning for Years 12 and 13 at Amber Valley Sixth Form based at The Ripley Academy, said: “The opportunity to visit such a place is a hugely valuable experience that also carries with it a sense of responsibility. It has given our students a unique insight into a horrific part of history and has helped them to re-humanise the victims of the Holocaust, seeing them as individuals rather than just numbers or statistics. They have also been challenged and inspired by the visit to pass on what they have experienced to the rest of the school community and beyond.”