The First Minister visited the Nazi concentration and death camp with Scottish students yesterday as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project. It included a trip to Oświęcim, the town where the camp was located.
This was followed by a visit to the former camp’s barracks and crematoria to witness the piles of belongings that were seized by the Nazis.
They also spent time at the main killing centre of Birkenau where the day concluded with candle lighting and a period of reflection to remember the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
“It is a privilege to join pupils from across Scotland on the Lessons from Auschwitz visit to Poland and experience first-hand with them the sites where horrific crimes against humanity took place,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“We must ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten. The work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is vital in educating young people about the Holocaust and what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable in a society. I’m proud the Scottish Government is able to support them to continue their important work and I am honoured to be participating in this visit.”
The First Minister was joined by 200 students and teachers from schools and colleges across Scotland.
Now in its 19th year, the project is based on the premise that “hearing is not like seeing”. Lessons from Auschwitz has so far taken more than 4,000 Scottish students to the former camp, as well as 550 Scottish teachers. Schools and colleges from each of the 32 local authorities from across Scotland.
Karen Pollock, chief executive for the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “The Lessons from Auschwitz Project is a vital part of our work, allowing young people to learn about the Holocaust in a way they cannot in the classroom. The visit enables young people to see for themselves where racism, prejudice and anti-semitism can ultimately lead, and its importance is demonstrated by the inspiring work students go on to do in their local communities.
“This project, which is only possible here with the support of the Scottish Government, leaves a lasting impact on participants. Standing beneath the Arbeit Macht Frei sign, walking down the iconic train tracks, and seeing the ruins of the gas chambers, is something that these young people never forget.”