THANKS to the Holocaust Educational Trust, myself and 200 other students from colleges across the north west were able to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland, writes Nicola Moors.
From an educational view, I learnt so much during my day in Poland.
Though today both places seem peaceful and serene, it is a different scene than the 1940s, when they would have housed around 220,000 people between them.
After stepping through the infamous gates of Auschwitz, aptly named ‘Hell’s Gate’, we visited the buildings where the prisoners lived, worked and were experimented on.
The brick houses were set in neat cobbled streets – it didn’t seem like a place where thousands of people were murdered.
Even at the execution yard and the Krema I gas chamber, perhaps the most infamous sites at Auschwitz, it was peaceful.
Here, the only indication of the events that occurred more than 60 years ago were the flowers placed in remembrance of the dead.
Though for many, the most touching part of Auschwitz were the victims’ possessions still in good condition, even today – shoes, spectacles, suitcases, even a blue ribbon attached to the end of a plait.
These artefacts made the experience more personal and even more saddening, and are living proof that the Auschwitz did indeed happen, despite the many denials in the news today.
Close by Auschwitz is a camp where gassing occurred on an industrial level – Birkenau.
What struck me about Birkenau was the sheer size of it and how isolated the camp was from the outside world – the only entrance being a single railway track used to escort prisoners to the camp.
Following the lone track down to the ruins of the crematorium and gas chambers to what was literally the ‘end of the line’ for all those meant to die, was saddening.
Yet some of the statistics are not enough for certain individuals.
As a wise man once said: ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Perhaps there is nothing else we can do to change their minds, only seeing is believing.