Jan 21 2009 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Harrowing visit for pupils to Auschwitz
TWO Coatbridge High pupils visited the most infamous of all Nazi concentration camps as part of a Holocaust memorial project.
Seventeen-year-olds Paul O’Shea and Andrew Gardner spent a day in Auschwitz in Poland.
They saw where over a million people - 90 per cent of them Jews - were murdered.
And now the sixth year duo have to tell their fellow pupils about a harrowing trip they will never forget.
Andrew said: “Before we went we knew it was the biggest death camp, where most of the killings were committed.
“I didn’t really know much more.
“We didn’t go with a sense of anxiety but when you are there you see it and you realise what actually happened.
“But it didn’t have much of an effect on me until a couple of days later when you take it all in.”
The pupils visited the gas chambers, accommodation blocks and walked through the entrance to the camp, under the chillingly ironic sign Arbeit Mach Frei (work makes you free).
The visit was the second part of an educational course aimed at raising awareness of the issues relating to the Holocaust and genocide.
On Holocaust Memorial Day on Tuesday, January 27, Paul and Andrew will tell the school assembly about what they saw and learned in Auschwitz.
And they will also introduce a man whose loved ones were victims of the Nazi genocide.
Paul said: “We have to give a presentation at the assembly based on what we found out at Auschwitz.
“And after that Bob Kutner, whose family were killed in Auschwitz, will give a talk and take questions.”
For the Coatbridge High lads, their project is not just about raising awareness of arguably the most horrific chapter of human history.
It is about trying to prevent similar atrocities in the future.
They added: “As much as it is about remembering what happened in Auschwitz, the message is to try and stop it happening again.”
Visit www.hmd.org.uk for more information on Holocaust Memorial Day.