Brighton and Hove teens learning lessons from Auschwitz

Posted On 12 Nov 2013 at 6:37 am

Youngsters from three Brighton and Hove schools are flying to Poland today (Tuesday 12 November) to visit the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby is joining them.

They will see where more than a million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered in a few short years.

And when they return home, they will be asked to share what they have learnt.

The students – two from each school – are from Brighton, Hove and Sussex VI Form College (BHASVIC), Cardinal Newman Catholic School and Brighton College.

Last year, on the 100th trip of its kind organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, Cardinal Newman and BHASVIC pupils were joined by two sixth formers from the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA).

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg went along with them.

Most of those travelling today spent an afternoon last week preparing for their visit to Poland.

They heard from an 87-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, Kitty Hart-Moxon. She arrived in Auschwitz 70 years ago.

By the end of the Second World War she and her mother were the only survivors in their family.

Her father was murdered, her brother killed in action at Stalingrad and 30 members of her family perished in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

And most of those travelling today will take part in another seminar on Sunday (17 November).

It is hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the suffering of those who were inmates, even when faced with their meagre possessions or seeing their stark barracks.

It is estimated that one in six Jews who were killed in the Holocaust died at Auschwitz. The killing took place on an industrial scale.

The “next steps” will be to spread the word. Some students lead school assemblies or create public exhibitions or memorials. They might teach lessons to younger pupils, organise an anti-racism conference or write an article for their local paper.

As a result of participating in the project, students become ambassadors in their own communities.

They are better able to raise awareness of the past and challenge prejudice and racism today.

As well as taking students to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, the Holocaust Educational Trust also arranges visits for others.

For instance, in the past academic year the trust has worked with more than 500 trainee teachers including BEd students from Brighton University. It has also hosted Hove MP Mike Weatherley.

His fellow Conservative Simon Kirby was due to join pupils at Gatwick at 5am today.

Mr Kirby said: “I am pleased to be supporting the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project. It is an example of the important work carried out by the Holocaust Education Trust in my constituency and across the UK.

“It is important to educate young people about the horrific events of the Holocaust, and visiting the most notorious concentration camp will undoubtedly give them a better understanding of the atrocities that occurred at that time.

“The lessons that they will learn are still relevant today in a world where people continue to be persecuted for their race, religion or sexuality.

“In Brighton we are extremely lucky to live in a liberal, tolerant society, but it is something we should never take for granted.

“I know that the visit will have a profound effect on me and others in attendance and I know we will all gain something from the experience.”

The chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: “HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project is such a vital part of our work because it gives students the chance to understand the dangers and potential effects of prejudice and racism today.

“Sadly the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles with every passing year, making it more important for the next generation to learn about the Holocaust so that the darkest chapter in our shared history is never repeated.”

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