Last month, 44 students from The Morley Academy’s GCSE History cohort attended a trip to Krakow and Auschwitz in Poland. The purpose of the trip was to develop students’ understanding of the legacy of the Holocaust and to broaden their cultural and spiritual understanding. As part of this, students had to deal with some sensitive and emotionally powerful topics, for example, when parts of Krakow city centre which were part of the Jewish ghetto were visited and during the visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Staff were humbled by the sensibility and maturity which students displayed, and by their eagerness to learn more about these events and their cultural and spiritual impact on Poland. The tour guide who accompanied everyone on the trip was extremely impressed by how attentive the students were; the visitor assistants at Auschwitz commented on how dignified and respectful students were during their visit. It was also extremely pleasing to see students’ reliability and independence at the times when they were free to explore Krakow city centre.
Students also visited Schindler’s factory – the inspiration behind the film Schindler’s List – where Oscar Schindler spared many Jews who were at the mercy of the Nazi killing machine. Students witnessed the horrors and atrocities of the death camp and concentration camp at Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau, even standing inside the only remaining gas chamber. Students later reflected on their visit, stating how ‘shocking it was to stand where millions of people once stood awaiting their death’ and how the ‘silence was haunting’. The trip ended in a visit to the Salt mine, located underground, this consisted of beautiful carved chapels and artificial lake, students were encouraged to lick the walls as everything was pure salt!