Every year, as part of the A-Level History course, Ralph Thoresby sends 2 year 13 students tovisit the former Death Camp at Auschwitz. The visit is run through the Holocaust Education Trust and is an incredible opportunity for our students to meet one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors, and see the remains of the Camps. In 2015 Lauren Read was one of the students fortunate to go.

In March we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest WWII concentration camp, in Poland. The trip really opened our eyes to the horrors of the war and made the history we had been learning back at school very real.

The first camp we arrived at, Auschwitz I, had been a labour camp back in WWII and was only quite small as it did not house many prisoners.

In the buildings here we saw many things such as the offices of the generals who ran the place, however more disturbingly there were others which held belongings of the prisoners from 70 years ago. One building contained 40,000 pairs of shoes which had been taken from Jewish, disabled and gypsy men, women and children. What particularly shocked us was that one of the guides mentioned that these 40,000 pairs of shoes would have only taken 5 days to be collected when Auschwitz were bringing in the most people per day at the end of 1944 and early 45.

After visiting here we travelled 3km on the coach to Birkenau, this was the prison camp and was where around 6,000,000 Jews, Gypsies and people with disabilities were executed. Here there were hundreds of barracks in which we learned hundreds of prisoners were forced to sleep in each, often having to share a bed with no less than four people. Only the remains of the gas chambers were left here as they had been destroyed by the Nazis after what they had been doing had been found out so they destroyed the gas chambers in hope to get rid of as much incriminating evidence as they could.

Overall it was a very sad, humbling trip however we both learnt a lot from it and would definitely consider re-visiting. To end the trip, the rabbi who ran the educational tours sang us a prayer and we all lit candles and joined for a few minutes silence in the remembrance of all the innocent lives lost in the camps.