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Two Sixth Form students, Laura Fleck (MVI) and Jacob Brady (LVI) recently took part in the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons From Auschwitz programme. Since 1999, over 30,000 students have taken part in this programme, which is based on the premise that ‘hearing is not seeing’ and aims to show what can happen when prejudice and racism are not challenged. Laura writes about her experiences on the programme:

‘I have always been interested in the Holocaust and the mistreatment of Jews. With extreme political changes happening in modern times, I was keen to learn about fascism and the history surrounding the period of Nazism. This programme offered me the opportunity to tell others about the sad history that effected Europe in the 20th Century. The programme itself involved us undertaking a three part course on the holocaust run by the Holocaust Educational Trust. As part of this course, we met holocaust survivors and had a one-day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Witnessing this first hand really brought an overwhelming sense of reality as I was able to understand the personal story of the Holocaust on the victims and survivors rather than the statistics that may seem far removed from the reality of the horrific events. Although it may be an uncomfortable topic to talk about, it is something that needs to be remembered.’

On Sunday 23rd April, Jacob and Laura were asked to speak at the Yom HaShoah memorial event in Belfast Castle about their experiences in the programme. Speaking with confidence, they talked of the importance of remembering those who died as a result of the Holocaust, what they learnt through the programme and seeing first-hand the place where so many had died. Other speakers included former Education Minister, Peter Weir, relatives of Holocaust survivors and the Rabbi, David Singer.

The final part of the Lessons from Auschwitz programme asks for Jacob and Laura to share what they have learnt with others and we look forward to hearing the ideas they have to share this experience with the wider school.

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