Auschwitz - Birkenau visit 2013

Fabian joins students from across Yorkshire and Humberside visiting the former Nazi death camp.

Fabian Hamilton MP and students from Leeds North East returned from the Holocaust Educational Trust's visit to the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on 1st May vowing to act on the lessons learned from the experience.

Fabian joined more than 200 post-16 students from across Yorkshire and Humberside on the Project. It was a unique opportunity to learn what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau, to pay respect to those murdered by the Nazis, and to explore the lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance for today. The students will now use the experience to commemorate and educate others about the Holocaust within their schools and local communities.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Government funded project is based on the premise that "hearing is not like seeing". Students first visited Oświęcim, the town where the Nazi concentration and death camp was located and where, before the war, 58% of the population was Jewish. Students then visited Auschwitz I to see the former camp's barracks and crematoria and witnessed the piles of belongings that were seized by the Nazis. Finally they spent time at the main killing centre of Birkenau where the day concluded with candle lighting and a period of reflection to remember the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and the other victims of Nazi persecution.

The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was preceded by a seminar in the UK where participants were introduced to Jewish life in Europe before the Second World War. Following the visit, the students will attend a seminar to reflect on the visit and discuss their personal responses to it. The fourth part of the project requires all students to pass on the Lessons from Auschwitz to their schools and wider community. In this way, as many people as possible benefit from the Lessons from Auschwitz Project.

Government funding has enabled the Trust to facilitate regional visits to Auschwitz, as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz Project for thousands of students each year.

Speaking after the visit Fabian said,

"One cannot overstate the importance of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and of recognising the full extent of the industrialised nature of the Holocaust. These events may have taken place 70 years ago but as our society bears witness; we need to continue to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to the younger generations in order to fight bigotry and hatred today.

I look forward to seeing how the students will communicate their experience to their peers and am encouraged that many more students will have the opportunity to participate in the course in future years. I hope that this will ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten and that its lessons are truly learnt, disseminated and acted upon."