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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.


  1. Oświęcim (labeled Auschwitz by German map makers) has been founded by the Polish Piasts in XII century, not by the Germans! Where did you get this? The only time Oświęcim didn’t belong to Polish state was between 1772-1918 and 1939-1945 (that is first partition of Poland by Austria and incorporation by German IIIrd Reich).

    Comment by Jan — March 23, 2015 @ 6:59 am

  2. I personaly attaended the HET visit to Auschwitz, and find it completly condescending that you beleive we are too “immature” to understand the events that occured from 1933-1945. We werent brainwashed at all and we fully understood the jewish life which was rich within itself, despite the lac of everyday essentials and we were also aware of gypsies also living here in this time. You are making a stereotypical judgment that we did not nderstand what we saw in that one short day, when infact many of us were self educated proir to the trip and also helped extremly well by our guides, are you saying that people of the age bracket 16-18 dont understand the Holocaust? what about the prisoners of camp who were of this age, did they not understand? Ity also brings about the point of, can anyone actually understand the Holcaust? If we understand does that make it ok, does it reverse time? Us who are left are here to rehumainse the people lost in Auschwitz, in Treblinka, in Maunthausen, not understanding the mass genocide that took place. if we can esplain the Holocaust it suggests that it cn be explained away.

    Comment by Molly — February 14, 2014 @ 1:43 am

    • I have written several blog posts that are critical of the HET tours. I believe that the HET tours are propaganda tours, designed to indoctrinate students in hatred of the Germans and worship of the Jews.

      For example, this blog post:

      This quote is from the blog post, cited above:

      Begin Quote:

      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).
      End Quote

      I have written other blog posts about the HET tours, including this post:

      The point that I am trying to make is that the HET tours are given for the purpose of brainwashing the students with a lot of misinformation. These students should be studying English, so that they won’t make mistakes such as “Us who are left…”

      Comment by furtherglory — February 14, 2014 @ 7:02 am

  3. There was one Jewish survivor who lived in a house behind the Jewish Centre of Oswiecim who died around about 1998. One young Jewish man ran the centre whilst I visited.

    The camps were built on swamp land with forestry around it; away from eyes that might see.

    Poland isn’t completely flat. If you travel South towards the Slovakian border, you are privy to the most amazing sights; i.e. I stopped the car at one of the highest points above sea level and the picture below was most beautiful: forestry as far as the eye can see,interspersed with a new road network with the prettiest of hamlets that you were compelled to visit. When you get to Zakopane you can take your car so far into a ‘national trust’ area (for want of a better phrase) and then you have to walk, but that walk through the forestry is beautiful because at the end of it you arrive at a plateau where you look down into Slovakia..

    Here are some images I googled on Zakopane and the Tatra mountains there:

    Comment by mogseyward — November 23, 2012 @ 3:46 am

  4. HET also take new Members of Parliament on educational trips to Auschwitz.

    In Jan 2012, Stephen Lloyd MP recounted in the Commons, a rather implausible HET tale about a football goalkeeper witnessing the hoax at Birkenau. What I find troubling, is the fact he was told this tale whilst he was in Birkenau, and whilst he was in fact standing next to the “death tracks”. But despite this, the right-honourable Member for Eastbourne didn’t have the presence of mind to register the fact, that the all important ‘hill’ in the tale doesn’t exist.

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — November 19, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    • Virtually the whole country of Poland is as flat as a pancake. Driving through Poland reminded me of the San Joaquin Valley in California. The land is flat as far as the eye can see. The hill in the town of Auschwitz, that is shown in my photo of the castle on this blog post, is a man-made hill. It is strange that, when people go to Auschwitz, they completely close their minds to what is very obvious about the camp.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 20, 2012 @ 6:33 am

      • I can understand anyone wanting to set a record straight, but that’s not your intent. Your purpose is an attempt to destroy what has been recorded in history through imagery and written records. You create a narrative to fit what your mind can’t grasp, that there is evil in this world and Hitler and many Germans, including its citizens, were contributors to this genocide by not standing up to a madman who fed their human ego and desire for greatness not by promoting the good but by diminishing the worth of other nations and races. He achieved this through force, by controlling school curriculums, and so the minds of impressionable young children, and dissemination of propaganda. Much of what you write falls in the category of “I don’t believe it therefore it couldn’t have happened.”

        Comment by Pyra Hugby — May 12, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

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