In July, twenty-four students, accompanied by four members of staff, made the emotional journey to Poland to visit the Auschwitz former extermination camp, the site of Nazi atrocities during the Second World War. Students had spent time in school preparing for this trip, discussing with Mr Worthington how they would feel when they saw something they had learnt so much about in their history lessons. Students stayed after school one day to watch the film Schindler’s List, which prepared them for their visit to Krakow’s Jewish Quarter and the Plaszow labour camp.
Students caught an early flight to Poland from Liverpool airport and arrived in Krakow around lunchtime. They were taken to a local restaurant to enjoy a lovely meal and were soon ready for a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. They were taken around by a very knowledgeable local guide, who helped them to understand what it was like for Jewish people living in Krakow during the war. That evening, students also visited the Plaszow former labour camp – now a public park – and used this time to reflect on what they had seen so far.
The next day, students awoke early and prepared for an emotional day. They travelled to the town of Oswiecim, where Auschwitz is located, and visited the first of two camps, known as Auschwitz I. They were shown around by Damian, another knowledgeable guide, and were taken into many of the buildings in the camp, which are now exhibitions about different aspects of the Holocaust. This was an intense emotional experience: staff and students alike were brought to tears by the things they saw. This visit ended with a look inside the actual gas chamber used during the Holocaust.
After lunch, the group moved on to Birkenau, the main camp at Auschwitz. Students were stunned by the size of the camp. They listened intently to what their guide told them, even though the weather was hot and uncomfortable. Students walked around the camp, taking in all they saw in a dignified and respectful way. They paused at various points to read inscriptions on memorials and to remember what happened there.
Before leaving the camp, they took part in a ceremony of remembrance, led by Mr Worthington. He reminded them of the responsibility we all share to stand up against injustice wherever we see it. There were also poignant readings by Mrs Hytner and Alisha Layfield.
Here are some images from the 2017 trip: