Alsop students speak movingly about visit to Auschwitz

To commemorate Yom HaShoah students from Alsop High School attended a special service organised by the Liverpool Jewish community at King David High School. Yom HaShoah is the Jewish communities' time to reflect and remember the 6 million Jewish lives that were lost during the Holocaust.

Alsop sixth form students spoke movingly about their recent visit to Auschwitz as part of the “Lessons from Auschwitz Project” organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Also during the ceremony, Alsop students presented the Liverpool Jewish Community with a beautiful tiled mosaic memorial to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. The large tiled mosaic was produced by young people who participated in the Anne Frank Trust exhibition at the school.

“It was a privilege for Alsop to attend this special event. We are proud of the links forged between Alsop and King David High School. We were humbled Alsop students were able to stand alongside the Jewish community together as one to honour the memory of those who perished.”

Peter Bull, Co-ordinator FAITH 2017

Mrs October Wright, Assistant Headteacher spoke about her experience as being somewhat strange being one of only two Jews among a group of 250.

Mrs Wright comments;

“I now think however, this enabled me to experience Auschwitz on so many levels: as a Jew, as a woman, as a mother. The visit will stay with all of us for the rest of our lives and, it left me feeling very different than how I felt before the visit about many things, including my own cultural and spiritual identity.”

Eve Mc Ardle (18) participated in the visit. Eve writes:

“I do not really think anything can every prepare you for Auschwitz – I was shocked by the size – it serves as a haunting reminder of the extent of the hatred which fuelled the camp. I remember particularly being staggered by a sign hanging on the wall of the office where the final solution was meticulously planned out – it was a quote from the papers written and signed by the Nazis “Jews are a race which must be totally exterminated” – I remember grabbing Mrs Wrights’ arm – I don’t know why . I do know however that the overwhelming thought I left with that day is that this must never, ever happen again.”

Gemma Cook (18) spoke about the recent visit our friend and holocaust Survivor Zigi Shipper at an event in our school. She also spoke about meeting an inspirational Rabbi:

“The Rabbi also reminded us of the importance of not taking seemingly everyday things for granted – family for example – This was particularly poignant considering we had heard harrowing tales of babies being ripped from mothers’ arms – sons being forcibly separated from their parents. I left with a renewed appreciation of those around me – a deeper love for my family – It seems strange that after experiencing so much hatred, I came away with a stronger sense of love.”

Harry Ellis (18) told the audience:

Whilst the Nazis aimed to eradicate the Jews by accentuating their difference, on the contrary I was left being reminded just how similar we all are. Our visit to the camps in Birkenau made this concept all the more poignant; seeing such sombre and denigrating living conditions that Jews and other prisoners alike had to cope with certainly made the whole experience all the more harrowing for me.

…… and regardless of religion or faith, I think it’s important to remember that hate has no place in today’s society and should and MUST always be challenged”

Mark Reyolds (18) spoke about the importance of Holocaust Education

“The importance of lessons from Auschwitz, and holocaust education as a whole, has never been more paramount. While at dinner with Zigi recently he said: "You can lose everything in life, but not education." These are experiences and thoughts which will never leave me, and the lasting effect that this could have on societies across the globe is extremely powerful.

The most important lesson of holocaust education is to re-affirm the words of Jo Cox, that ‘we are far more united, and have far more in common with each other, than that divides us. My experiences at Auschwitz really reaffirmed that it is our collective responsibility to seek out these similarities and to challenge those who seek to divide us. It is our responsibility, to reach out across communities, and across religions, now more than ever.”

Mrs Wright concluded by speaking about hope:

“The hope one desperately searches for after leaving such a hopeless place like Auschwitz is a strange one. While it took most of us a long time to find it, hope was with us all along in the sense of human unity – the unity of experience , the unity which comes from the compassion and empathy one must feel for the victim (individually and collectively), the unity one feels toward their common man to ensure this never happens. I saw hope in the eyes of these wonderful young people who I shared the experience with – by the commitment to always challenge hatred of any description. This is a commitment the students have felt compelled to share with the other 1700 pupils in the school and staff through assemblies and staff insets and a commitment I know is shared by our whole school community.

Which I am sure you can imagine is quite a daunting task for 17 years olds – but such was the strength of their conviction and I would like to day publically here today, I am so very proud of you all. When you hear the positive messages of the young people here today – about challenging hatred about collective responsibility, about valuing life and those around us. How can we not feel hopeful!"

Full coverage of this talk can be read in an article published in the Jewish Telegraph, by following the link below: