Sixth-formers who toured Auschwitz-Birkenau with Nick Clegg last Thursday came away impressed by the Deputy Prime Minister’s commitment to Holocaust education.
Mr Clegg joined 200 students from the south-east on the 100th trip to the death-camp sites organised as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s “Lessons from Auschwitz” programme.
Benjamin Dupres and George Whittington from Ringwood School in Hampshire were among Mr Clegg’s tour group of 15. Benjamin said that “being students, before the trip we didn’t have a high opinion of Nick Clegg. But that has changed now.
“He seemed very emotionally connected to what was going on and very genuine.”
“We suggested to Nick that the programme should be expanded. He thought it was a great idea.”
George added that at one point, “Ben and I were talking about the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution came about. Nick didn’t know a lot about it, so we gave him a short history lesson on it. He seemed very interested and open.
“Out-of-lesson learning is the most important learning a student can do. It wasn’t until I was standing in a watchtower overlooking Auschwitz II that I fully understood the scale of what went on.”
Mr Clegg said it was “fantastic that the Holocaust Educational Trust brings so many thousands of young British people here.
“Forgetfulness is the surest way that hatred, violence and prejudice carries on and repeats itself. So to teach generations who don’t have any direct contact with what happened in the war by showing them places like this is an antidote against forgetting and against antisemitism. It’s also a great antidote against extremism and prejudice more generally.”
HET chief executive Karen Pollock pointed out that, with the dwindling number of survivors, it was “more important for the next generation to learn about the Holocaust”.