Britain’s deputy PM makes visit to Auschwitz

Visit is part of Lessons from Auschwitz Project, run by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

October 21, 2012 04:09
1 minute read.
Nick Clegg lights candle at Birkenau camp

NICK CLEGG lights a candle at Birkenau extermination camp 37. (photo credit: Yakir Zur)

LONDON – Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg joined students from high schools and colleges from across the Southeast of Britain on a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Thursday.

The visit was part of the Lessons from Auschwitz Project, run by the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Londonbased charity which organizes for 3,000 students from the UK to visit the camp in Poland each year – two students from each institution of learning.

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The program combines a visit to Poland with an orientation seminar and follow-ups. Students have gone on to organize anti-racism conferences, public exhibitions, to write articles for local media and to lead school assemblies.

The visit on Thursday was the 100th by UK students since the program was launched in 1999.

More than 18,000 students, teachers, MPs and dignitaries from across the UK have visited Auschwitz-Birkenau – under HET’s auspices – helping to deepen their understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust, its contemporary lessons and where hatred and prejudice can lead, if left unchecked.

The day began at Osweicim, the town where the Auschwitz death and concentration camps were located and where before the war, 58 percent of the population was Jewish.

Clegg and the students saw the barracks and crematoria at Auschwitz, witnessing the piles of belongings seized by the Nazis. They subsequently visited Birkenau, the main extermination center. They concluded by lighting candles and taking time to reflect and remember all those who died.

The deputy prime minister read an extract from Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel’s speech on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

“Forgetfulness is the surest way that hatred, violence and prejudice carries on and repeats itself, and so to teach generations who don’t have any direct contact with what happened in the war by showing them places like this is an antidote – against forgetting and against anti-Semitism of course, but it’s also a great antidote against extremism and prejudice more generally,” Clegg recited.

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