A Brighton school will pay for its entire Year 12 cohort to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau every February as part of the headmaster’s determination to highlight the dangers of the rising tide of ring-wing sentiment in Europe.
Some 200 pupils from independent school Brighton College made the visit this week to the infamous Nazi concentration camp as part of a 100 per cent funded trip.
The Year 12s made the journey to Poland after history teacher and head Richard Cairns persuaded governors that the trip should be free to make sure all children were able to go.
Mr Cairns wrote to parents, saying: “I doubt that I need to say how valuable I believe that this experience will be for all of the pupils.
“At a time when there is so much political uncertainty, with worrying signs of rising intolerance across the world, we would all benefit from coming face to face with the terrible consequences of intolerance and hatred.
“So, this represents an important opportunity for your sons and daughters to reflect on what really matters in life and how vital it is for them (and us) to stand up always against prejudice in all its forms.”
It has been more than 70 years since the Nazi-occupied Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. Auschwitz was the most notorious of all the concentration camps – where it is believed that more than a million people were systematically exterminated via state systems of execution and torture.
Pupil Isabel Loubser said: “This gives us the chance to see first-hand the stark reality of a concentration camp. Sometimes we see the atrocities committed during the Holocaust on the TV as quite an impersonal statistic and we forget the human stories and experiences behind the number. This trip changes all that.”
Olivia Austin added: “At school we learn about and discuss the events of the Holocaust so often and I feel like this trip will give us the opportunity to truly understand the extent of the terror - something it is difficult to fully comprehend from inside the classroom.
“I think it is an experience that is invaluable and something we will never forget and it is amazing that we all have the chance to experience something so important in our history.”