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February 25, 2012

“An assault on difference is really an assault on all of humanity” What British students are taught about Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 9:49 am

The BBC online news had an article yesterday about British students visiting Auschwitz; it included a recording of several tour guides taking turns in the indoctrination of the students.  This quote is from the article:

Sixth-formers from across Wales have paid a visit to Auschwitz as part of a project to educate people about the horrors of war.

More than a million people were killed by the Nazis at the concentration camp in present day Poland.

Students visiting the site with the Holocaust Education Trust told BBC Wales what they thought.

The recording starts off with a tour guide in Krakow telling the students that they are first going to make a 30 to 40 minute stop in the town of Oświęcim, not Auschwitz; she tells the students that Oświęcim was RENAMED AUSCHWITZ BY THE NAZIS during the war.

Then we hear another tour guide telling the students that Auschwitz “used to play two roles.”  It was a “place of imprisonment” and also a “top secret place of mass extermination” with gas chambers.  The students are told that Auschwitz had “a well-organized production line” for “mass murder.”

Most of the tour guides were women.  At the end of the recording, we hear a man who says that the Jews were targeted for no reason other than being who they are.  He asks “Why were they targeted?” and answers his own question: “The Jews were targeted because they were different.”  His last words are “An assault on difference is really an assault on all of humanity.”

What did the students learn from this trip?  They learned how to pronounce the words Oświęcim and Auschwitz correctly from people who speak Polish.  Other than that, they learned that it was “so cold” in Poland and that the Jews were “stripped before going into the gas chamber,” implying that the victims suffered from the cold because there was no heat in the gas chamber. The gas that was used (Zyklon-B) had to be heated to 78.3 degrees before the poison was released, so this was an obvious blunder on the part of the tour guide.

The students learned from the tour guides that the main Auschwitz camp was located in “former Polish military barracks.”  But were they told why the Auschwitz buildings were originally built?  Were they told that Auschwitz was the largest railroad hub in Europe?  All railroad lines in Europe went to Auschwitz which is why this town was selected for a migrant worker camp way back in 1916. The migrant workers lived in what later became the Auschwitz I camp, and went from there to farms all over Europe to harvest the crops.

The students were told that 50% of the people in the town of Auschwitz were Jewish before the war and now there are no Jews in the town.  Of course, they were not told that Auschwitz was a town in which liquor was produced and shipped to America during Prohibition and also a place that was known as a hub for human trafficking, or “white slavery” as it was called back then (Source: Hitler’s Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man, written by  Dr. Brigitte Hamann, German-Austian historian, in 1999).

The town of Auschwitz was originally built by the Germans in 1270.  It was renamed Oświęcim by the Poles when this area was given to Poland after World War One.

Why am I nitpicking about these small details?  Because the students should be taught HISTORY, not propaganda and hatred of the German people.  They should not be told that the Jews were targeted because they were “different.”  They should be required to read “Mein Kampf” before getting on a plane to Poland.  They should learn about HOW the Jews were different and why Hitler thought that the Jews caused Germany to lose World War One.  They should learn that Auschwitz was in Silesia, a province that Germany lost after World War One.

4 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.

    Comment by Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog — May 17, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

  2. If you actually go on one of the trips arranged by the HET (Holocaust Educational Trust), you would realise, as I did on my trip with them, that their is not just a focus on the one minority (i.e. the Jews). Moreover, your claim that students are told ‘no Jews live in the town’ is false, as we were told that there is still a Jewish community living there, and we visited a nearby Jewish cemetery in the town. There is a focus on many different groups targeted by the Nazis during the Holocaust – and reasons why they were targeted are discussed prior visiting Poland. I would also like to add that, as part of ‘rehumanising’ the Holocaust (as in giving it a human face – rather than the statistic of the casualties), we also rehumanise the perpetrators of the Holocaust, remembering that, although they committed abominable acts, they too were human like any one of us – just like their victims. Moreover, I find the fact that Auschwitz was originally built by the Germans completely irrelevant to the atrocities not of the ‘German people’, as you put, but of the Nazi regime – and the fact that it was part of Germany can not excuse them in any shape or form for what they did. Before damning such a trip in future, I would highly recommend actually visiting the camp as it is an incredibly moving experience.

    Comment by Daniel Green — February 28, 2012 @ 11:50 am

    • Thank you very much for your comment. I have visited Auschwitz-Birkenau twice. In 1998, I spent a day in the main camp with a private tour guide and another day at Birkenau with another private guide. At Birkenau, the guide and myself were the only ones there that day. I have never been on a tour with a large group, such as the HET tours. Before going to Auschwitz, I read several books before the trip each time. My preparation for these trips was probably very different from the discussions that you had prior to the trip. You are correct that the history of the town has nothing to do the the “atrocities,” but a knowledge of the history of Germany is essential to understand what happened to the Jews during World War II. When Auschwitz was a concentration camp, that part of what is now Poland was in the Greater German Reich; Auschwitz was part of Germany before the Germans lost World War I.

      When I visited Auschwitz in 2005, the Synagogue had just opened as a Museum. At that time, there was no Jewish community in Auschwitz. I saw a film in which Jewish survivors of the town spoke of their life in the town before the war; they had all moved to America or some other country. You can read about the last Jew in Auschwitz at http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/13542/the-last-jew-living-in-the-city-of-auschwitz-dies-at-72/

      If there is a Jewish community in Auschwitz now, these are residents who have settled there recently. When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, my Jewish tour guide was verbally attacked by Polish people. In 1998, almost all of the visitors were from Poland, mostly high school students. The movie at the Visitor’s Center was not even shown in English because I was probably the only English speaker there.

      I have read about the re-humanizing of the Germans on these trips. Do the tour guides tell the students that the Jewish religion teaches that the Jews are the only humans and that the goyim (non-Jews) are animals? For the Jews, it is not a crime to kill a non-Jew, nor to cheat a non-Jew, because non-Jews are animals, according to their religion. You were told that the Jews were targeted because they were “different.” But were you told HOW the Jews are different? They are “different” because their religion teaches that it is O.K. to lie, cheat and steal from the goyim. Have you ever heard the expression: “After you shake hands with a Jew — count your fingers.”

      The main Auschwitz camp was originally set up for Polish resistance fighters, who were illegal combatants during World War II. Were you told that? It was legal to put illegal combatants into prison during World War II.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 28, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    • I wonder if Daniel Green is really one of the students or is one of the HET “educator” guides? I myself don’t believe he’s a high school student. Daniel Green is Jewish, that we know, so he is not a neutral or unbiased example. I wonder how many of the students who blog about the trip afterward are Jewish students? I’m sure the HET makes sure a certain number of Jewish kids go along, and all the ‘educators’ are Jews. So what can be expected to come of it?

      I would say the “re-humanizing” theme is just a gimmick to make it appear there is something new going on with the same old tired story. It actually makes the ‘perpetrators’ even guiltier, the way it is framed. They are saying, Humans can be monsters, so we must not allow anyone to follow ideas that we think caused us harm in the past. It’s all about “them” even though they mouth the other “minorities.” It’s all a way to keep getting at the Germans AND to keep bringing “minorities” into European states. They are the monsters! 🙂

      Comment by Sceptic — February 29, 2012 @ 5:28 pm


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