Rosie Cooper MP and two students, Lauren Astbury and Amy Martindale from Ormskirk School returned from the Holocaust Educational Trust’s regional visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Tuesday 20th November vowing to act on the lessons learned from the experience. Rosie joined more than 200 other students from the North West of England, on the Project which explores the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance for today.
Rosie said: “I cannot underestimate the importance of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and recognising the full extent of the industrialised nature of the Holocaust. These events may have taken place over 60 years ago but as our society bears witness, we need to continue to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to the younger generations in order to fight bigotry and hatred today.”
Rosie added: “I look forward to seeing how the students will communicate their experience to their peers and am encouraged that many more students will now have the opportunity to participate in the course in future years. I hope that this will ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are truly learnt, disseminated and acted upon.”
The visit was a unique opportunity to see what happened, 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.
The course includes an orientation and follow-up seminar, to prepare students for the visit and to reflect on their experiences. On their return, the students are required to give a presentation to their peers, based on their experience of visiting Auschwitz and the lessons they have learnt. In this way, as many young people as possible benefit from the Lessons from Auschwitz Sixth Form Project. Government funding of £1.5 million has enabled the Trust to facilitate regional visits to Auschwitz, as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz Project for thousands of students each year.
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:
“We are delighted that Rosie could join us on the visit with students from her constituency. The HET’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 national and local scale. With the support of recent Treasury funding, we are excited to be expanding the programme to enable many more students to have this life–changing experience.”