On the 19th of November I made my way to Stanstead Airport to attend the Lessons from Auschwitz Programme which is a project run by the Holocaust Educational Trust in partnership with the Union of Jewish Students. It was the first visit for universities that the trust has ever organised and I attended by myself as the representative for UEA. It was an incredibly rewarding visit and I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to go, here’s an update of what I got up to.
I woke up in time to check in at 4.30am for our flight that left at 6.30. After I arrived in Krakow, I had an hour bus journey to the town of Oswiecim where we thought about Jewish life prior to World War Two.
After arriving we had a seminar which included a talk from Susan Pollock, a Holocaust survivor. This opened up some really interesting discussions, including talking about the lives of the Jewish community pre-World War Two in small groups.
A visit to Auschwitz was next on the agenda. Here we walked around the site which had been memorialised with the belongings of those that were killed. Pictures that exhibited the victims’ dates of arrival at Auschwitz and dates of death were part of this memorialisation.
We also visited the Birkenau concentration camp. The sheer size of it was overwhelming and it felt impossible to imagine how those who were sent to Birkenau must have felt, particularly as it was minus 2 degrees when we arrived, bitterly cold. We ended the day with a reflective session to think about what we had seen and how this would impact us when we returned home.
Like I said, the visit was so rewarding, and it was great to be given such a unique opportunity to learn about World War Two.
Here at uea(su) we make sure that we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day by working with the Jewish community at UEA and the Union of Jewish Students. If you are interested in knowing more about this, then click here to see our current policy on Holocuast Memorial Day. Or if you have any questions about what I learnt on my visit, or how you can get involved with the commemorations, then please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.