As Nescot College came to a standstill to remember the war dead this Remembrance Day, for two students, fresh from an educational trip to WWII concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the horrors of war and man’s inhumanity to man were all too real.
For Emily Nicholls, 17, from Wallington, the trip had been a sobering warning of the consequences of intolerance
‘It was unbelievable and I’m still trying to absorb everything we saw,’ said Emily. ‘Before we went we attended a seminar where we heard from an 83-year-old survivor of Auschwitz called Bob, who was 12 when he first entered the camp. Throughout the whole day I couldn’t stop imagining what it must have been like for him. I’m still trying to make sense of everything we saw and the scale of it all,’ she said.
Polly Corrigan, 18, from Coulsdon, was also shocked by what she saw and heard on the trip but it was the fact that Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf HÃ¶ss lived with his family so close to the camp that really brought home the horror of the times.
‘He lived in a big house with his wife, five children and their dog just yards from all the killing. They even had a swimming pool, I just can’t get my head around that,’ she said.
The trip was organised by the The Holocaust Educational Trust, which works with UK schools, colleges and communities to ensure the Holocaust has a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory.
Polly and Emily will now receive training from the charity to become student ambassadors and ensure the lessons learned during WWII are passed on to future generations.
‘Meeting Bob and hearing his story was incredible,’ says Emily. ‘I realise that his generation won’t be around for ever and it is important that people realise what happened and this isn’t forgotten.’ She said.