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Posted on March 5th 2020
Bergen-Belsen Visit for Year 12 History Students
Three students from Year 12 students joined our Head of History, Mr. Davidson, in participating in a one-day visit to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in Germany earlier this month.
This was part of the UK government’s Belsen75 project commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by British troops of the 11th Armoured Division.
As part of this project, students attended a pre-event seminar in London in which they learnt about the historical context of Bergen-Belsen in relation to the Holocaust through testimony and archive material and prepared for the visit.
At this seminar, students also heard the first-hand testimony of Renee Salt, aged 90, who survived both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during the Holocaust. She spoke extremely movingly about the horrors she experienced in the last few months of the war at Bergen-Belsen, including witnessing the death of her own mother. This was particularly moving for one of our students, whose grandfather participated in the British liberation of the camp in April 1945.
The visit itself to Bergen-Belsen gave the students an opportunity to confront this difficult history more directly. Although little remains of the buildings which were destroyed by the British after the war for hygiene reasons, the site now houses a museum and visitors are able to walk around memorials and mass graves, under the guidance of experts. The most famous victim of the murders at Bergen-Belsen was Anne Frank whose memorial stone was one of many visited by our students.
Besides the privilege of being able to participate in the Belsen75 project, the visit will have a direct impact on our students A level History learning. Students in Year 12 are currently preparing coursework on the intentions behind the Holocaust and asking the question how far these terrible events were the result of long-term planning on the one hand and the circumstances of the war on the other.
We very much hope that our year 12 participants will be able to share their experiences and impressions with other students throughout the school as part of our ongoing commitment to Holocaust education.