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November 19, 2012

British HET tours start in Oswiecim …. then it’s on to Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:35 am

This quote is from an article in the Guardian online newspaper:

Last month Nicholas Rogers from St Andrew’s School in Leatherhead accompanied Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and 200 other students on a visit to Auschwitz.

It was the 100th trip organised by the Holocaust Education Trust, whose Lessons From Auschwitz programme aims to take two students from every 6th form and college in Britain to the notorious camp in Poland so they can spread the word about what they experience there.

This quote is from the words of Nicholas Rogers, one of the British students on the HET tour, which were published in the Guardian; you can read the story in full here:

On my [HET] trip, we didn’t go straight to the two camps, but actually to Oswiecim, which was the town inside the Auschwitz area.  Before the Second World War, 58 per cent of the population had been Jewish, with a vibrant Jewish community.  Today not a single Jew remains.

The thing that really hammered home the meaning of this was that we were told this information standing in a grassy field. As it turned out, we were standing where the Great Synagogue had once stood. It had been completely destroyed, along with its Jewish population. This really helped me to understand that the Jewish victims were just ordinary people. This in turn changed my understanding of the 6 million murdered Jews from a statistic into a rehumanised group of real people who had been lost.

The first time that I visited the Auschwitz camps in 1998, I had a private tour guide; a Polish taxi driver drove us there. I asked the driver to first take us to the town of Auschwitz.  This was apparently an unusual request; the driver told me that I was the first tourist to ever ask to see the town.

I wanted to see the town of Auschwitz because I had read in a book that it had been established by Germans in the year 1270.  I was expecting to see an ancient German town with typical German architecture.  I was disappointed to see that the town square had been modified by the Communists who took over Poland after World War II.

The photo below shows a store that was built by the Communists right in the middle of the town square.

Modern building in the middle of the market square in the town of Auschwitz

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz town square on my website here.

Almost every article about Auschwitz that you will ever see, and some that you won’t see, mention that the name of the town was changed from Oswiecim to Auschwitz by the Nazis. No, it was the other way around.  The original name of the town was Auschwitz.

In recent years, there has been a big effort to educate tourists that the name of the town, in a suburb of which the Nazis set up the Auschwitz main camp in 1941, is Oswiecim.  At the time that the Nazis set up the main camp, Silesia (where Auschwitz is located) had been annexed into the Greater German Reich, so Auschwitz was in Germany and it was called Auschwitz.

Today, the Polish people are affronted when anyone calls Auschwitz a “Polish death camp.”  Auschwitz is properly called a “death camp” in what is now Poland.

The photo below shows the only remaining Synagogue in Oswiecim, aka Auschwitz.

The restored Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue
Photo Credit: Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation

Why does all this concern me?

I think that these students are too young and immature to understand what they are being told.  They are being brain-washed with propaganda.  By starting the tour in the town, now called Oswiecim, the students are being told that this was a Jewish town, which the Nazis destroyed, implying that all the Jews in the town were killed by the Nazis.

Are the students told why there were so many Jews in the town of Auschwitz, which did not even have running water, before the Nazis took it over?  The next largest ethnic group in the town of Auschwitz was Gypsies.

The one remaining synagogue has a large Jewish Center attached to it.  When I visited Auschwitz, I saw a movie that was shown on a TV screen in a small room in the Jewish Center. In the movie, several survivors, who were children in 1939, tell about what it was like in the town before the German invasion of Poland. There was a “large Jewish presence in Auschwitz,” according to one survivor. All of the survivors said that they now live in Israel or the United States, but none of them mentioned anything about how they managed to survive the Holocaust.

One woman survivor said that the Jewish children in Auschwitz were all “organized.” There were many organizations for Jewish children, and she had joined the Zionist movement as a child. Another survivor said that she had a home tutor so that she could learn German. Her father told her that she would be able to go any place in Europe if she could speak German.

One survivor said that the Jewish houses in Auschwitz had no running water, no electricity, no central heating nor air conditioning, and no inside toilets, but the Jews had “culture.” Another said that the Jews were not rich, but they had a “rich Jewish life.” One survivor described the life in Auschwitz before the war as “a life of dignity.” All that is now gone; the Nazis not only killed the Jews, they destroyed their rich, dignified way of life in Europe.

So why did so many Jews live in a town that had no running water, no electricity, and no inside toilets?  Location, location, location. It was because of the location, the same reason that the Nazis established a camp there.  Auschwitz was the largest railroad hub in Europe.  Trains from every part of Europe could take passengers and goods to and from Auschwitz, without changing trains.

The photo below shows an old castle that was built by the Germans who established the town of Auschwitz in 1270.

Bridge over Sola River with Castle in background
Photo Credit: Tomasz Cebulski –

Are the British students taken to see the old Castle in Oswiecim?  I doubt it.  The purpose of their trip is to indoctrinate them in Jewish lore, not to educate them in the history of Germany or Poland.

This quote is from the article written by the British student who took the HET tour:

The second, simply awful part of the experience at Auschwitz I was the completely intact gas chamber and crematorium which I walked through. Although extremely hard to explain emotionally, physically the entire room was so cold, in all senses. I agreed with others in my group that the room had even smelled cold, it was that overwhelming.

Did it occur to any of these students that the gas chamber was cold because it was a morgue?  Did it occur to any of them that it was stupid to put a gas chamber in a morgue because the Zyklon-B pellets had to be heated in order to release the gas?

Did any of the students say to the tour guide:  “Excuse me, how were the Zyklon-B pellets heated to release the poison gas?”

View of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp, as seen by tourists today

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz gas chamber on my website here.

The whole purpose of the HET tours is to indoctrinate young people who are too immature to question the propaganda that they are being force fed.