Gove vows to keep funding Auschwitz trips

By Robyn Rosen, July 1, 2010
Michael Gove and HET student ambassadors look on as John Bercow addresses the reception

Michael Gove and HET student ambassadors look on as John Bercow addresses the reception

Education Secretary Michael Gove has pledged that the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition will continue to fund the Holocaust Educational Trust's Auschwitz visits programme for sixth-formers and teachers.

MPs from all the main parties were among those at a Westminster reception hosted by the Speaker, John Bercow, on Monday to mark the 10,000th participant in the Lessons from Auschwitz programme.

Aside from Mr Gove, they included Cabinet members Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Huhne, former Schools Secretary Ed Balls, ex-Tory leader Michael Howard and All-Party Group Against Antisemitism chair John Mann.

Started in 1999, Lessons from Auschwitz first received government funding in 2005. It now runs 17 visits annually, taking 200 students and teachers on each.

Mr Gove said he was "a huge supporter of HET. I want to make sure the trust goes from strength to strength. As there are fewer survivors, we need the trust more than ever to remind people of the unique evil of the Holocaust. I want to give as much support as we can."

Having been on a Lessons from Auschwitz trip, Mr Bercow said "there is nothing as moving and educational as visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and witnessing the physical evidence of the horrors that were perpetrated there.

"The Holocaust Educational Trust understands that in matters of this kind, it is not enough to know the truth.

"You have to repeat it over and again to this generation and the next. It is vital for us to tackle prejudice, root out racism and combat antisemitism in its most pernicious form."

HET chair Lord Janner said that by educating future generations, "even when there are no witnesses to the Holocaust left alive, we will still have well-informed and passionate individuals prepared to safeguard its memory, refute the lies of deniers and to oppose prejudice in all its forms.

Auschwitz survivor Ziggy Shipper, 80, said: "I feel I was lucky to survive and I have to give something back to speak for all the people who didn't.

"It's magnificent and unbelievable that so many people have visited Auschwitz. I want more and more young people to go and come back educated."

Guests also heard from HET student ambassadors who had recently made the trip. Nadia Caney from Sunderland said she had tried to apply the lessons learned "by sharing what I saw, by standing up to prejudice wherever I have encountered it, by not being a bystander and by being active in causes that promote social justice".

Last updated: 1:55pm, July 1 2010