Today I returned to my primary school to speak to the primary sevens (11/12 years old) about the holocaust and my trip to Auschwitz.
It’s strange to think it’s been a year and a half since we went to Poland for the day. I still remember it so clearly and looking at the pictures still makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.
Mrs H, who taught me for three years and is the teacher of the class I visited today, kept saying what an honour and priviledge it was to have been able to make that trip. And she is completely right. Few people are able to experience what we did, even fewer are able to do it with the support that we did or for the cost that we did.
And today, more than ever, as I stood in front of those kids and tried to convey to them the horrors of that place and it’s resonance with me, I was acutley aware of the responsibility that comes with that blessing. The responsibility, which I was trying to teach the children, of remembering and passing on.
As well as taking them on a photo tour of the camp, my main point was that it’s not just a bunch of facts and figures or distant history: it’s about the people. Because each of the 17 million people that died was an individual; a son or daughter, a mother or father, a brother or sister; each had passions and hobbies; each was loved and missed. And each deserves to be remembered as such. Not just another number. When we do consider them like this, the impact upon us is far greater and our motivation to remember them far greater too.
I’ll keep ranting about this every now and again, infact, at every opportunity I can. That’s my responsibility now. It’s everyone who knows responsibility now. Or it’ll all happen all over again.
The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Website has some great resources, photos and information about the camp and the Holocaust, if anyone’s interested.