Two year-12 students who had visited Auschwitz led the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations at Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing.
Tasmyn Ong and Salma Mohammed went to the notorious Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lesson from Auschwitz Project.
The school held assemblies for each senior school year group and the students were inspired by listening to survivor Mala Tribich, who shared her testimony via live webcast live.
The school also took part in the World Jewish Congress social media project #WeRemember.
Salma said: “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.”
Tasmyn said: “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.”
Dr Simon Orchard, head teacher, said the students reflected 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,” he added.
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