‘A very humbling experience’ - students and teachers from Fens reflect on their visit to Auschwitz

11:38 06 March 2014

Teachers Heather Carter, left, and Meredith Jewson at the entrance to Auschwitz I. The sign says: Arbeit macht frei - translated it means: Work makes you free. Picture: Kath Sansom.

Teachers Heather Carter, left, and Meredith Jewson at the entrance to Auschwitz I. The sign says: Arbeit macht frei - translated it means: Work makes you free. Picture: Kath Sansom.

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Joining the 2014 education trip were students and teachers from Fenland and east Cambridgeshire.

Ely College students Zoe Collins, left, and Kara Bailey on the tracks at Birkenau. Picture: Kath Sansom.Ely College students Zoe Collins, left, and Kara Bailey on the tracks at Birkenau. Picture: Kath Sansom.

Two students from Wisbech Grammar made the trip with young people from the King’s School, Ely, and Ely College. Two Ely College teachers also travelled.

Grammar music student Joel Fitzsimmons, 16, said the day had been a massive eye opener.

“It has blown me away, I don’t know how to make sense of it,” he said, after joining a candle-lit memorial service at Birkenau railway track at the end of the tour.

“It was harrowing and although we have seen things here that we have been shocked by I don’t think we can ever really imagine what it must have been like,” he said.

"It has blown me away, I don’t know how to make sense of it."

Joel Fitzsimmons, Wisbech Grammar School student

Fellow history student Lauren Mounfield, 17, said: “We look at history through text books and don’t really get an idea of how it was for the people, just a series of factual events.

“The trip has made me stop and think about the lives of the people. It’s saddening and puts it into context.”

At Ely college where two teachers joined the trip both of them said how deeply it had impacted on them.

History teacher Meredith Jewson said: “We are walking out of here where others didn’t, I can’t make sense of that.

Lauren Mounfield with her memorial candle, which was lit at a memorial service held at the end of the day. Picture: Kath Sansom.Lauren Mounfield with her memorial candle, which was lit at a memorial service held at the end of the day. Picture: Kath Sansom.

“Today has so much learning for students in a way I could never get across in a classroom, a very humbling experience.”

Her colleague Psychology teacher Heather Carter said it was something she would never forget.

“The real human aspect didn’t really hit home until we saw the objects and the hair and the things associated with the people.

“From the whole day what sinks in is that you really question the senselessness of humanity. You still see on the news that this is going on.

"Today has so much learning for students in a way I could never get across in a classroom, a very humbling experience."

Meredith Jewson, Ely College history teacher

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity and something that young people should continue to do to keep the past alive.”

Their students, 17-year-old Zoe Collins and 18-year-old Kara Bailey, said they had really felt the impact of how camp life must have been for women.

Zoe said: “You can read as much as you like but until you come here you don’t realise just how bad it must have been.”

Kara added: “Everybody should come here to know that this must never happen again.

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