The Government sponsors a programme of school visits to this concentration camp in Poland. Yesterday celebrated the 100th – I assume 100th school to join the scheme. Nick Clegg was also there. The plan is that every school in the country – not primary schools as far as I know – will send two 16- or 17-year-olds and they will pass on what they have learned and what they felt, etc. to their fellow students.
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. Firstly, I remember vividly my own terribly shocked response when I first learned about concentration camps during the trial of Adolf Eichmann. I was genuinely traumatised and for months had nightmares from which I would wake screaming. However, I was a little younger – 12 I think. Nevertheless, I wonder how the two pupils are selected and how prepared they are for what must be a deeply distressing experience.
Secondly, I hope it is made clear that although the Final Solution was an extraordinary act of industrial genocide and involved a huge number of Jews, this was by no means the first and sadly has been proved not to be the last act of genocide the world has seen.
Thirdly, I hope it is made clear that although 6 million Jews comprised the majority of the victims, many others, including communists and homosexuals, were killed or suffered terribly as well.
Fourthly, I hope that it is made clear the Auschwitz was one of many concentration camps – not all of them extermination camps but certainly places where many were killed or died anyway.
I am not suggesting that The Holocaust should be ignored or, worse still, prettied up in some way (as if that were possible). I'm just not sure that this is the right educational approach and wonder if, in fact, it almost tidies it away, so after the initial shock, it can be consigned to "done The Holocaust".
absentgrana Sun 21-Oct-12 10:10:25
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