I am sitting on a plane at Luton Airport, staring at the tarmac.
It’s a cool, crisp autumn morning as the ground crew makes its final preparations, oblivious to the nature of our trip; seemingly it’s a planeload of people heading off on vacation, to be reunited with family or to seal a business deal. In fact, I’m with a group of 200 high school students from across London on a unique visit to the death camps at Auschwitz.
The one-day visit is part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s flagship 'Lessons from Auschwitz' program, now in its 12th year. In all, the London- based trust has taken more than 10,000 students, teachers, parliamentarians and dignitaries from across the UK to Auschwitz. Based on the premise that 'hearing is not like seeing,' the aim is to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, educate and intimate the extent of what can happen if prejudice and racism go unchecked.
The success of the program has led the British government to recognize its impact and huge importance – in 2005 the government pledged £1.5 million for the program and in the last several years, the Scottish government and Welsh Assembly vowed support to allow for the participation of Scottish and Welsh high school students."