By Kitty Mitchell-Turner
I thought I had prepared myself for our visit to Auschwitz, as much as one can for going to a museum honouring the victims of the Holocaust. But I never anticipated half the things I saw and felt there.
The piles of untouched hairbrushes for hair that was immediately shaved off. Keys to houses that the victims would never return to, and most of all, the display of baby shoes.
Seeing the mounds of those tiny boots that would never be treasured or grown out of left me feeling like I had been punched in the stomach and sobbing. Reflecting on it, there is not an ounce of me that regrets going.
The Holocaust Educational Trust runs this project because “seeing is not like hearing” and they are absolutely right.
I know that the way Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau affected me will never ever leave me and being an ambassador for the trust gives me the chance to tell other students about how this silent place, with such a heavy presence of death, impacted me personally.
Not only does it put in perspective just how lucky I am, how even having to trudge to college half asleep in the rain is – in some ways – a luxury that all those victims had taken from them.
So really Auschwitz inspired me to work harder and live more and help others to see and understand what I did in going to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
But most of all I get to honour and bring a light to the owners of those tiny shoes who weren’t even registered before they were taken to gas chambers.
Kitty Mitchell-Turner is a student at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove.
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