On the 29th February, two Trinity sixth formers, Miss Dennis and pupils from all over the Midlands went on an educational tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The day started very early, enabling us tour both camps in full so that we could gain a greater understanding to the extent of the Holocaust.
Our first stop was to visit a Jewish Cemetery in the town Oświȩcim. The cemetery is now left in a state of disrepair as there is no Jewish community left in town to tend the graves.
We then carried on to what is considered to be the main site of the Holocaust, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Our first encounter of Auschwitz was when we gathered at the foot of the gate with its famous sign Arbeit Macht Frei. We found the sight of the sign to be very emotional as we were all fully aware of the horrific treatment the Nazis dispensed in the camp to enemies of their regime.
Within Auschwitz there were lots of exhibits, including pictures, maps and personal effects of the European Jews who were sent to the camp. These exhibits proved to be very emotional and upsetting as they enabled us to humanise the Holocaust in a way that we could never through books and films.
We then moved to Birkenau which was the main extermination camp of the complex. Most of the structures within this camp were destroyed by the Nazis, so only a few exist, but we could imagine how vast the camp was, what it looked it and felt like during the 1940s. This proved to be the most thought provoking part of the day as it challenged our understanding of how genocide was allowed to take place within a modern civilised society.
A Respectful Service
At the end of the day a service was given by Rabbi Barry Marcus. One of the Trinity students gave a reading along with students from other schools and then we all put a lit candle on the train tracks as a symbol of our respect.
The day proved to be a very humbling experience and one that will take a long time to process and come to terms with.