Fenland students share their Lessons from Auschwitz as trip leaves lasting impact

FENLAND students shared their Lessons from Auschwitz following their trip with the Holocaust Educational Trust.

RACHAEL Ayres and Natalia O’Gorman, Year 12 students at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, were among the 200 students who visited Auschwitz last week.

Rachael, 16, from Stonea, visited after being unable to join students on a trip to Germany and Poland last year.

She said: “I knew the number of people who were executed but seeing the glasses, the hair and the shoes really had an impact on me. There were personalities in those items. It was really horrible.”

Natalia, 17, from Chatteris, is half Polish. She visits family in Poland twice every year but had never been to Auschwitz. Her Polish mum has never visited either.

“It was something I wanted to know about but never discussed with family,” she said. “It’s not something anyone normally discusses. So I took the opportunity to see it.

“It’s all good learning about something but it is not always the same as going to see it. And it’s taught me to appreciate things much more. They had no freedom whereas we take things like running water for granted.

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“I feel everybody should also listen to Kitty’s story. It brings everything about the camp to life – what happened inside and the torture they went through.”

ALICE Wong, 17, of Wisbech St Mary, and Polly Rosier, 17, of Parson Drove, are AS-level history students at Wisbech Grammar School and were chosen by the school to visit. They will talk about their visit to fellow students.

Alice said: “My grandfather was involved in the liberation of one of the camps but he never talked about it. So I wanted the chance to learn more about the camps.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I was a bit nervous about it. It brought numerous aspects of the holocaust to reality rather than it ‘just happening’. I can now see it from the Jews’ perspective.

“It was a good experience and one I look forward to sharing in the community.”

Polly said: “My granddad ran the Polish Air Force, he lived there but was not Polish. So I wanted to learn more because of the family connection.

“I can understand what these people went through after seeing their living conditions much more. It’s better than just hearing the stories. The camp was also much bigger than I thought.”

ETHAN Dack, 17, of Pondersbridge, and Alex Suchoruczka, 16, of Whittlesey, saw the trip advertised in the common room at Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey.

Ethan said: “I have always been really interested in history but at GCSE I felt the holocaust was not covered in great detail. I wanted to broaden my knowledge – and it definitely has.

“It is what I expected it to be like. I couldn’t imagine it to have been any worse. The main thing that hit me was how families were separated. I cannot imagine how hard that would have been. Yes, they could have killed you, but if you were separated from loved ones they probably didn’t care any more and just accepted it.”

Alex has a Polish grandfather and wants to study history at university. He was keen to visit after a presentation by students two years ago who went on the same trip.

He said: “Seeing Birkenau for the first time was pretty intense. There is nothing there now but empty buildings and lots of barbed wire. It is still really imposing today.

“It’s proof for me that if racism isn’t stopped it escalates out of control.”

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