Our Lady of Sion School, Year 12 students, Tasmyn Ong and Salma Mohammed, visited Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland, as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lesson from Auschwitz Project.
Tasmyn and Salma both helped to lead the school’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations on Friday 27th January. The school held HMD Assemblies for each Senior School Year Group.
They were inspired listening to survivor, Mala Tribich MBE, who shared her testimony via webcast live to hundreds of schools.
The school also took part in the World Jewish Congress social media project #WeRemember.
Here are some of their reflections on that experience.
“In order to understand such a horrific ordeal that occurred only 71 years ago, I felt it was important to experience such a place in order to fully empathise with the victims of the Holocaust… Upon our visit, we were not only educated on the suffering of the victims of this unimaginable ordeal, but also how simple, ordinary and carefree their lives were before this extreme form of prejudice, which later led to genocide. To see the sheer enormity of the camps was truly shocking. I can encourage people to perform simple acts of kindness, become mindful in every interaction and subsequently plant the idea of equality in our society today” – Salma
“I feel I’ll never be able to find the “right” words to describe Auschwitz and what it stands for and represents. Is calling Auschwitz and its perpetrators evil correct? Or does that simply reduce the perpetrators to monsters with no further reasoning? Maybe calling Auschwitz a place void of compassion and humanity comes close to describing the place succinctly – but I don’t think Auschwitz and how it affects people can ever be defined or encapsulated. I will always believe that opening your eyes and heart to such painful sights of suffering will make you a more considerate and empathetic person – no matter how difficult the experience is, we all can benefit from lessons of human compassion and kindness” – Tasmyn
Headmaster, Dr Simon Orchard, said: “Our students have been reflecting on lessons from history and how individuals can change the world. Salma and Tasmyn had an unforgettable experience during their Auschwitz visit and have made an enormous contribution to the school’s Holocaust Memorial Day reflections”.