Harrowing history lesson for New Forest students walking in footsteps of Holocaust victims

GRIM LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Students and staff at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate

GRIM LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Students and staff at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate

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SOME of the most harrowing passages of history were brought to life for a group of New Forest students after they walked in the footsteps of Holocaust victims.

The GCSE history students from The Arnewood School in New Milton spent nine days in Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland visiting famous buildings, villages and memorials associated with the Third Reich and the tragedy of the Holocaust.

On their trip they took with them two memorial candles inscribed with prayers.

They lit one candle at the train station in Berlin where the German Jews departed for the concentration camps and their other candle was lit at the Auschwitz memorial.

At Auschwitz they walked the 1km distance from the watch tower to the gas chambers – a walk hundreds of thousands would never return from.

Trip leader and history teacher Paul Barrett said: “Every student was profoundly affected by the horror of the Holocaust and this trip really brought it home to them what happened to the millions of victims.

“The visit has really helped further their understanding of the past and has brought history and its impact to life.

“It doesn’t matter how many textbooks you read or documentaries you watch, nothing can bring history alive like visiting the actual places where events took place.”

The trip started in Nuremberg where students visited places made famous by the Nazis, including the mass rally parade at Luitpoldhain and the Third Reich Documentation Centre.

The students crossed into the Czech Republic to visit the village of Lidice, which Hitler infamously removed from the map as an act of revenge after the village was implicated in the death of high ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich.

Their journey culminated in visits to Auschwitz 1 and 2 in Poland, where it is estimated more than a million Jews, homosexuals and Romany gypsies were killed.

Before coming home they went to Berlin to pay their respects at the Holocaust memorial.

Deputy headteacher Nigel Pressnell, who also accompanied the students on the trip, said: “This was a moving experience for all of us who went. As a school we passionately believe it is important to enhance our students’ learning by extending beyond the classroom. This is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

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