LESSONS FROM AUSCHWITZ PROJECT As part of the Lessons from Auschwitz Project, we attended two seminars aimed to broaden our knowledge of the Holocaust and set the context before the actual trip to the Auschwitz concentration camps in Poland. The orientation seminar on the 8th of February 2018 encouraged us to explore the lives of Jewish people before the Holocaust, and to try to understand how and why the Holocaust happened the way it did. We were given the Holocaust Educational Trust’s definition of the Holocaust: “the attempt by Nazi Germany and its collaborators to murder all Jews.” This then enabled us to dig into and discuss questions such as: why did the Nazis want to murder the Jews? How did they try to do it? Who were the collaborators involved? We also focused on humanising the Holocaust by looking at the victims. We were shown pictures of Jewish people around Europe depicting various aspects of life: children playing on the streets in France, a family sending off their son, a couple smiling in a café, and so on. They showed the normality of Jewish life, people doing things that we can all relate to. This, as well as a powerful talk from a survivor, demonstrated the unforgivable cruelty of the Holocaust as it showed how ordinary people were persecuted for no justifiable reason and were torn away from their families, loved ones and everything they knew when they were placed in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. The follow-up seminar after the trip to Poland allowed us to reflect on our visit. We talked about what we saw and experienced, the horrendous living and working conditions of those in Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, and how the visit changed our perceptions of the Holocaust, enforcing the idea that seeing is truly different from hearing. We also looked at the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust, with situations around the world where parallels can be drawn with the Holocaust, such as the persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma (Myanmar). Overall, it was a very enlightening and informative experience, which changed how I felt and what I knew about the Holocaust. Britney Okhiria, 12AF We went to Auschwitz to get answers to questions but we returned with even more questions. It’s hard to describe how we felt whilst walking around Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The two camps are different but the one thing that is similar is that they were created to work people to death. We thought we knew what the Holocaust was, and what it meant. We had studied it and had seen many documentaries and films about Auschwitz, but nothing really prepares you for being there. The scale of the concentration camps, especially Auschwitz-Birkenau, was overwhelming. We walked through the barracks and gas chambers and we heard nothing apart from our footsteps. You’re standing in these rooms where so much death has taken place and your mind is trying to come to terms with all that’s happened in this space. One thing that shocked us was the amount of hair they cut off prisoners; hair is something that makes us unique as humans and the Nazis physically took what makes us human – because to them the prisoners were not human, they were subhuman. This was a very powerful experience that has changed the way I view some of the unfortunate events of the twentieth century. Matthew Morris, 12AFI HISTORICAL HARDWICK HALL During the visit to Hardwick Hall, we were able to see the different ways in which Bess of Hardwick displayed her wealth and status during the Elizabethan era; there were many carpets inside Hardwick Hall which were imported from Turkey and used primarily to show the status of Bess of Hardwick. Furthermore, we were shown the Long Gallery during the tour, which contained mainly paintings and tapestries, and there was also a place for exercise and recreation. Bess was actually rich enough to have the raw materials required for building the house instead of having to import them, and also hired Robert Smythson, a very well-known architect during the Elizabethan era, to create the hall. Amaan Ahmed We went to Hardwick Hall in order to gain a greater understanding of the Elizabethan house we are studying as part of our GCSE specification. We learnt a lot about the former home of Bess of Hardwick, from the extensive overmantels atop every fireplace to the staggering symmetry of the house. We had a lot of fun learning about the house and the café wasn’t bad either! All in all it was a very informative trip which helped us to gain a greater understanding of the house and what life was like over four hundred years ago. Jude Folorunso On arrival we were split up into three groups and all our groups were assigned a tour guide to take us around the Hall and Gardens. Our tour guide took us inside the Hall to explain its key features and to give us information about the woman who built the manor house, Elizabeth [Bess] of Hardwick. He also took us around the outside to show us the gardens constructed around the house and we also saw the previous Manor house that was built by Bess of Hardwick’s father. So we had a very comprehensive tour of the Manor house and we were told what features made it stand out above other typical Elizabethan Manor houses. A very educational and helpful trip for our GCSE History course. Abdul-Hakim Abid 15