Lessons from Auschwitz

Students from Honiton Community College help educate others after an emotional visit to Auschwitz.

STUDENTS at Honiton Community College have been helping to educate others about the Holocaust after an eye-opening visit to Auschwitz.

George Cox and Kayley Pearse visited the Nazi death camp as part of an educational trip by The Holocaust Educational Trust and recently gave a presentation to other sixth form students about their experiences at the Nazi death camps.

History student George also wrote a report for the college’s newsletter.

“When you first step out at Auschwitz, it all seems very eerie and the rows of brick buildings intimidate you, echoing the past right at you,” George said. “Passing through the gate with ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ reiterates the fact that you are entering what many people must have seen as just labour camps, especially with ‘Work Sets You Free’ etched into the entrance.”

During the visit, students were able to see inside one of the remains of the gas chambers where many prisoners met their death from the poisonous canisters of Cyclone B.

“When inside the gas chamber at Auschwitz, you realise it was a very well thought out and constructed cell, with steel doors and hatches on there.

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“Despite the gas chamber being a reconstruction, you still felt a twinge that, at this spot, around a million Jews lost their lives,” he added.

“However, it felt worse when we were stood next to the execution wall, where the German officers had shot people for minor crimes, like not being on time for morning call, or just because they didn’t like the look of you.”

The students also visited the infamous site of Auschwitz Birkenau, which George described as sparking a different spectrum of emotions.

“Auschwitz-Birkenau was a completely different spectrum of emotions, and the biggest shock was the sheer size of it. It is around 3km� and, when we stood up in the watchtower, you could see everything and the scale of it all,” George said.

“Not everyone will ever be able to make it to Auschwitz, but to know that those that do are able to pass on their knowledge makes it more real in some aspects.”