Two teenagers from Ellesmere Port have visited the memorial site of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The ‘exceptional educational experience’ of travelling to Poland to raise awareness of the Holocaust was offered to Josh Nolan, Year 12 and Zoe Butler, Year 13 from the University Church of England Academy.
The Whitby Road students visited the memorial, a former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, as part of their A level history course.
Their visit to Auschwitz aimed to create unique learning opportunities allowing Josh and Zoe to enhance their understanding of the key historical event.
They were also able to learn about what happened to Jewish people and other minority groups during the period of persecution from 1939 to 1945.
The academy said: “For many years UCEA has worked with the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project and, once again, has been able to send students on an exceptional educational experience outside of the classroom.”
Prior to the visit the students attended an orientation day in Manchester to hear a Holocaust survivor speak about their experiences, learn about pre-war Jewish life and prepare them for the visit.
During the visit itself, Josh and Zoe were first taken to the town where the Auschwitz concentration and death camps were located and where the local Jewish community lived prior to the start of the Second World War.
They were then shown several barracks at Auschwitz including registration documents of inmates, piles of hair, shoes, clothes and other items seized from the prisoners as they entered the camps before being taken the short distance to Birkenau where the vast majority of victims were murdered.
Following their visit Josh and Zoe attended a follow-up seminar where they discussed the visit, their personal responses and the impact it had on them.
They also discussed the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust and how they might go about sharing what they have learnt and experienced with others at the academy and in the community.
Arriving back at the academy, they were able to disseminate what they had learned and experienced to other students allowing them to become Holocaust Education Trust Ambassadors to help raise awareness in the academy of the historical event.
Matt Walby, head of history at UCEA, said: “The Holocaust is one of the key historical events of the 20th century and is a topic area taught as part of the study of GCSE History in Year 11.
“Being given the opportunity to visit one of the sites of the Final Solution and to reflect on the events of the past is so important especially in today’s turbulent society.”
He added: “I hope that being involved in this project will have given the students who participated and those who were involved in the post visit activities at UCEA the opportunity to understand the importance of tolerance and respect in our society and consider the consequences of what can happen where this does not take place.”
Josh said: “Visiting Auschwitz was a true experience of the terrible events that took place. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with the younger students.”
In 2015 the academy welcomed Holocaust survivor Iby Knill.