Scrapbookpages Blog

February 26, 2012

British students do not learn even the most basic facts on their trips to Auschwitz

I was surprised at the great interest in my post yesterday about the student trips to Auschwitz which are funded by the Holocaust Educational Trust.  I am very much against the practice of sending 16-year-old students on a whirlwind tour of a historical place, where they do not learn even the most basic facts.  As I pointed out in my post yesterday, the students are told that Auschwitz was re-named by the Nazis when they took over the town during World War II.

Old castle in Auschwitz, a town founded by the Germans in 1270

The most basic fact about Auschwitz is that the town was founded by Germans in the year 1270.  The British students are not taught this on their one-day trips.

This morning I read an account, written by a student who had just returned from a trip to Auschwitz.  This quote is from the student’s article:

We had briefly touched on the subject in our earlier years of education, but the overriding feeling was that we were not entirely sure what to expect; how can censored lessons serve to prepare you for the stark reality of a camp which was purpose-built to murder millions?

Note the mention of “censored lessons.”  To what is this student referring?  The students have CENSORED LESSONS to prepare them “for the stark reality of a camp which was purpose-built to murder millions”?  What camp was “purpose-built to murder millions”? Was this student referring to Auschwitz-Birkenau as a camp that was “purpose-built to murder millions”?

The main Auschwitz camp was built in 1916 and the Birkenau camp was built in October 1941 to house Russian prisoners of war.  This quote is from a Jewish website:

Himmler visited Auschwitz in March 1941 and commanded its enlargement to hold 30,000 prisoners. Himmler also ordered the construction of a second camp for 100,000 inmates on the site of the village of Brzezinka (Birkenau), roughly 4 km from the main camp. This massive camp was intended to be filled with captured Russian POWs who would provide the slave labor to build the SS ‘utopia’ in Upper Silesia. The chemical giant I G Farben expressed an interest in utilizing this labor force, too. Extensive construction work began in October 1941, under terrible conditions and with massive loss of life. About 10,000 Russian POWs died in the process.

The British students are not told the most basic fact about Birkenau, which is that it was built to house Soviet Prisoners of War.  Instead, they are taught that Birkenau was purpose-built to murder millions.    (more…)