Reaching To Others
As an A level Philosophy and Ethics student, I had the opportunity to experience something so eye-
opening and sobering which altered my perceptions of modern day society. The Holocaust
Educational Trust opened a trip to A level students in order to make today’s young generation aware
of the political and moral issues of the Holocaust ensuring that history does not repeat itself.
After waking up to the smell of coffee at 1am, I was prepared for what I knew would be an emotional
day. After a journey through Poland’s magnificent southern countryside we arrived at Auschwitz 1
through the original camp gate on which is written the infamous cynical message ‘Arbeit macht frei’
(work brings freedom). From there, we entered one of the buildings where the quote ‘Those who
forget the lessons of the past are doomed to relive it’ was written. I can’t think of a more apt quote to
sum up the whole experience.
One of things that shocked me greatly was seeing the hair of the victims piled up and placed in a glass
cabinet. There were also dozens of: suitcases, bowls, artificial legs, toothbrushes, combs, shoes and
spectacles all in large mounds in huge glass cases. Seeing all those things affected me emotionally,
and I kept asking myself the question: how could any human being inflict this sort if pain onto others?
Seeing all those objects that I thought only existed in text books was seriously hard hitting, resulting
to tears to build up in my eyes. I was horrified.
After a ten minute bus journey, we visited Auschwitz One’s neighbouring camp Berkenau. As stepping
off the coach, the eerie and gloomy atmosphere bombarded me as I gazed at the camp which still
remains unchanged. Whilst walking along the train tracks, we learned that this is where the innocent
individuals would be separated from their families into two groups. If you were deemed ‘unfit’ to
work, you would instantly be sent to the gas chambers to be exterminated. On the other hand, if you
were fit to work you would be sent to be ‘dehumanized’ and then straight
to work. The main aim of dehumanization was to take away one’s own
identity. This was done through shaving bodily hair which was then made
into blankets and mattresses. Also as part of the process, they exchanged
their names into numbers which was then
later tattooed on them. As I walked
through the camp, I almost felt guilty for
being alive. This place was so quiet and
surreal I just couldn’t help and not think about the pain and
starvation these innocent human beings went through.
A barrack containing toilets was considered to be a place where you
would be safe. These so called ‘toilets’ contained a long concrete
seats with holes in it; this was another piece of evidence where the
Nazi’s treated them as inhuman. I was sickened to learn that people
wanted to have the job of cleaning out the waste from the toilets to
reduce the likelihood of soldiers finding them to kill them.
For me personally, I feel that visiting Auschwitz has really given an
impact on my life. I now feel that my every day ‘worries’ are so
trivial, which make them seem so silly and shallow. This place has
taught me to be gracious for the most basic things, and to appreciate
how good my life is. A life where people do not have ultimate control
over me and force me to do things that are so sickening to even
mention. My overall aim for this project is to teach the young
generation on how important the Holocaust is. The importance on
how we should not allow history to repeat itself.
Lesson Plan: Y9RHW, Y9MJP, Y8MJP, Y10DCJ.
Place: Abbeyfield School
Time: 10.50am- 11.40am
1. Ask children on what they already know. (5mins)
2. Show PowerPoint presentation. (25mins)
3. Demonstrations. (5mins)
4. Show parts Kitty’s DVD (10 mins)
5. Work sheet (5mins)
I personally felt that I could easily
get my message across to
younger students from a more
personal level. By teaching I felt
the students were more
confident in asking question on
things that they didn’t get. I used
Kitty’s DVD in order to get a more
detailed understanding on what
it was like.
Here, I was able to spread my message to all years. My partner and I
decided to outline more about the trip (making it more personal)
whilst verbally explaining the historical and political context bits. We
only used our own personal pictures which we took on the day. This
was to make more realistic.
Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.
But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.
But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.
The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.
But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child.
For the world is forgetting again.
This is one of the poems that I chose to read out to english classes. The
reason why was because when I read this out to my own mother, she cried.
Therefore, I got the students to critically evaluate on what this poem was
Questionnaire I also felt that I could also teach children about others
trying to say.
emotions rather than just from a political and historic view.
Please tick the following:
1. Do you feel that the assembly/lessons have given you a clearer
understanding about the Holocaust?
2. How did the images shown to you make you feel?
Sad Emotional Corrupt Nothing
3. Were you aware of any of the issues told before the
Yes Some None
4. Do you feel that these sort of lessons need to be taught more
5. If given the opportunity, would you visit Auschwitz?
These are graphs showing the results from the questionnaire taken by
In conclusion, I felt that the whole experience and project was a success. Children
seemed to respond to it very well which has reflected positively in my findings. The
opportunity in doing this experience was an honour, and I shall carry on teaching
others about the importance of the Holocaust in the future. For example this year in
November, I shall be conducting more assemblies and workshops for the schools
World War week. Also, speaking and presenting to others in Abbeyfield’s new history
club next year.