Lessons from Auschwitz Project

At the start of the day, I didn’t know what to expect from the trip to Auschwitz because there is nothing that I could relate it to. Nothing I knew could prepare me for the day which, in a way, made it scary. I think this also points to the fact that the events of the Holocaust seem so inhumane and unnatural that even visiting a site where it took place just over half a century after feels unlike anything.

The day started with a short visit to the Polish town of Oświęcim which was what many know as Auschwitz due to its German translation. It was an interesting first stop which gave us an insight on pre-war life for Jewish people.

After this we went to the Auschwitz concentration camp which was a profound experience. We were given a tour around different buildings in the camp. We were shown rooms with personal belongings, human hair and individual stories which all belonged to victims of the camp. One of the final and most memorable stops was in the room with the ‘book of names’ which I expected to be a big book that could be picked up and looked at but instead it was a double-sided wall of pages the same height as me. I think this was the room I remembered the most because it really put the whole thing into perspective. I knew that millions of people died during the Holocaust, but I had never stopped to think about what millions of individual human lives really looked like and so the book of names really shocked me.

The final stop of the day was the camp of Birkenau which some refer to as Auschwitz 2. This is where the famous picture of the train tracks into the ‘gates of death’ was taken. Birkenau really highlighted the Nazi mistreatment of their mostly Jewish prisoners with them being given animal-like conditions to sleep in. The day finished with a service from a Rabbi who was with us which was very moving and I think it was a solemn yet hopeful way to end the day.

Ben Whiteoak – 12KOR



Even though millions of people lost their lives to the genocide, sometimes it can be easier to leave these events in the past, move on with life and heal the trauma of the incidents with time. However, the lessons of the Holocaust must be taught today as hate and prejudice (foundations of this ethnic cleansing) are still ever-present. The Holocaust highlighted the damning ramifications of permitting hatred of other cultures, religions and livelihoods to grow, leading to the dehumanisation of entire groups of people. For these 17 million people, their hopes, dreams and ambitions were to be unceremoniously lost in their ashes and their entire livelihoods were to be forgotten behind a numerical digit, a death toll.

Something that stuck with me, from the visit to Auschwitz, were the words of Rabbi Marcus. Often people question where God was during such harrowing events but he points towards humans. “Where was MAN?”, he exclaimed. That question is an uncomfortable one. At the end of the day, these murderers were… people. They had families they returned home to, probably played football on weekends and enjoyed drinks with friends. Yet, these are the same people who unleashed 56 tons of Zyklon-B gas on innocent men, women and children. Perhaps this highlights how unchecked hatred can grow, spread and become all-consuming. Maybe this shows that society’s differences are to be embraced, not to break it apart. But certainly, the Holocaust demonstrates that if we don’t live in harmony, if we let intolerance prevail, many will suffer.

Therefore, in current times of an increase in different forms of discrimination together with conflict around the world, it is crucial, now more than ever, to set aside our differences and come together to live happily alongside one another and ensure that such events of the past never happen again.

Shrey Kapoor – 12PSK