Scrapbookpages Blog

February 3, 2016

What British students learn from the HET tours to Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:59 am
Arbeit macht Frei gate at Auschwitz main camp REUTERS

Arbeit macht Frei gate at Auschwitz main camp
Photo credit: REUTERS

You can read about the latest British HET tour of Auschwitz in this news article:  http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/14248333.The_horrors_of_Auschwitz_recounted_by_North_Berwick_High_School_pupil_whose_great__great_gran_died_there/

I have written about the HET tours several times in the past.  I am very critical of this student program because I think that it gives the students the wrong impression of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

The coldness of the gas chambers, the vast scale of [Auschwitz] Birkenau, the hallway lined with faces of prisoners who died and mounds of hair, shoes and glasses – these are the images which will have a lasting impression upon me.

[…]

One week prior to the visit, we attended the orientation seminar. This was useful as it not only allowed us to get to know the other young people who would be going through the same experience but it addressed our expectations of the camp.

[…]

At the seminar, we were incredibly privileged to have heard from survivor Ziggi Shipper. Ziggi’s story of being separated from his grandparents and imprisoned in Auschwitz to later finding his mother again after the war is truly remarkable.

End quote

I first learned about Ziggi and the hair exhibits at Auschwitz when someone made a comment on one of my very first blog posts:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/hair-today-gone-tommorrow-the-exhibits-at-auschwitz/

The news article about the HET tour ends with this quote:

Begin quote

I now feel ready to do this as part of the Next Steps programme, though, and hope to achieve this through various channels such as assemblies we will be presenting during Holocaust Memorial Week.

‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – these are the hollow words which confront you as you enter Auschwitz.

‘Work sets you free’ – these are the words which met millions of prisoners, some of whom made this sign, who would never experience freedom again.

End quote

I wrote about the meaning of the Arbeit macht Frei sign on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/Gatehouse.html

“Arbeit macht Frei” does NOT mean “kill the Jews” as some people might think, after reading this news article.