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Students discuss ‘surreal’ visit to Auschwitz

‘Learning From Auschwitz’ students spoke about their “eye-opening experience” on a recent visit to Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

The 30 students learnt about the tragedies faced by European Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities and Eastern Europeans who were killed during the holocaust.

At a presentation held in Bayside School last week, one student told friends, families and LFA Trustees: “The visit was a surreal experience.”

“We saw scratch marks all over the gas chamber and I was astonished by what I saw.”

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The students put together a video presentation, while others made sculptures and put collages together, wrote historical essays and photography from the trip.

James Fernandez, 18, and Jude Benneworth, 17, were inspired by 90-year old Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh and painted a portrait of him as a tribute to his work.

The background is made up of pages from a book with a list of names of Holocaust survivors which they came across during the visit.

The portrait also includes a Yiddish quote which translates to “Inspire Hope”.

Meeting Mr Hersh after seeing the concentration camp has left a life-long impact on both teenagers.

Jude said: “His entire story is incredible.”

“He has been through so many different camps and in each one his experience is completely different.”

“In one camp, he had to eat his own shoes, he was cold, and he received abuse from the guards.”

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James explained the Mr Hersh was pulled away from his mother and sister when he went out for some water and never saw them again.

Hatim Smith, 17, said: “We had the opportunity to learn about Auschwitz, the history and the events.”

“This experience also taught us to forget about discrimination, and to respect other people regardless of their religion and race.”

“The whole point of this trip is to spread the message that we want to take away discrimination in this world because we do not want a repetition of past events.”

Speaking to Mr Hersh was also a highlight for Hatim.

Hatim said he and his friends hope to become a trustee with the local charity Learning from Auschwitz.

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