On Thursday 5 March, 2 of our Year 12 students visited the Auschwitz memorial as part of the Lessons from Auschwitz project with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Below is an account from student C Atkins who took part in the trip.
Auschwitz I is now turned into a museum, some of the images (below) are of glasses, suitcases and other possessions of those held in Auschwitz; these images serve to show that those persecuted did not know what was happening, bringing with them their prized possessions or labelling their suitcases to find them easier.
There are also two images (above) of drawings, these drawings are based on children’s drawing from the war years, drawn in concentration camps, orphanages and hiding places. The Artist that drew the assembled fragments of the drawings used a pencil to draw them in the walls, in their original size. Most of the children who drew the images were murdered during the Holocaust.
The image (above) is one of the hallways in Auschwitz I, it shows images of those held at Auschwitz – displaying their names, date of birth, date of death and profession. What shocked Rachael and I were their professions, we were told around half of polish intelligence was wiped out: professors, doctors, engineers. These also showed how some survived longer than others, there were a few people who arrived in Auschwitz on the same date but some died after weeks whereas others months.
With the assistance of partners around the world, Yad Vashem, Israel’s national authority for the remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims, has undertaken the vast and complex task of collecting and documenting the names of the murdered. These names were collected through Pages of testimony submitted by family members and by researching lists from archival sources. As of 2013 more than four million names were collected and their efforts continue. However six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and have no graves and no tombstones; as entire communities were wiped out it will never be possible to compile a full list.
The picture above shows brick chimneys. The barracks built at Auschwitz II-Birkenau were constructed quickly, without foundations, they were built with wood which has not lasted, these chimneys show where the barracks would have been, you may not be able to see in the photo but a brick perimeter of each barrack still stands. You can see on the map (first image) how many barracks, showing the size and scale of Auschwitz II-Birkenau (around 1km back and 2km to the side)
The picture above also shows a wall of images. This was in a building where the prisoners were registered, behind this there were many other images and the stories of particular individuals and families.
There above picture shows a monument which stands at the end of the railway track at the back of the camp. Next to this are these plaques, in 20 languages.
The last pictures are of the railway track. These images were taken at the end looking out of the camp. We were told it was about 1km back – you can see the guard tower in the distance. To the left and right were large gas chambers and crematoriums, which were both destroyed by the Nazis before the camp was liberated. These were separately cornered off with barbed wire to separate them from the rest of the camp. Before the camp was liberated the vast majority of prisoners were moved to other camps but those too weak, most seriously ill due to their imprisonment, were left – not many of these survived long after the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.
- Thank you to student C Atkins for his written report and photographs above.