More lessons from Shoah

January 8, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter

Almost 3,000 sixth-formers and teachers will participate in the Holocaust Educational Trust’s 2009 Lessons from Auschwitz programme.

Through funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the HET is offering places on the scheme to two pupils from every secondary school and college. In November, the Scottish Government announced funding for its own schools.

As well as visiting the death camp site, participants attend orientation and follow-up seminars. They will then be expected to share their experiences with fellow pupils and the wider
community.

Project graduates have led school assemblies, created exhibitions and memorials, organised anti-racism conferences and written articles for their local press.

More than 7,000 students and teachers have been through the programme, now in its tenth year. HET chief executive Karen Pollock urged schools to ensure that pupils and staff did not miss out on “a life-changing experience”. The impact on the teenagers is illustrated by comments from recent participants.

“I know I have an obligation to those who died at Auschwitz to pass on my knowledge to others in my community,” reflected Warwickshire student Ian Gough.

Berkshire pupil Ram Mashru pointed out that lessons learned from the programme applied not only to modern-day genocides but “smaller scale prejudices we see every day — a racist joke, an unprovoked insult or a slanderous headline that we read and do not question”.

Londoner Victoria Pearce was moved by the story of a single word — zachor (remember) — found scribbled on a scrap of paper buried in the death camp grounds. “It is my wish to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive,” she said. “For this remembrance brings with it knowledge, understanding and, ultimately, a renewed hope for an age of peace, justice and humanity.”

    Last updated: 4:56pm, January 8 2009