At the end of November, 21 of our students, Mrs Walsh, Gerard and Mrs Snelson visited Krakow in Poland for a once in a lifetime experience to understand World War 2 in a way that cannot happen without seeing the sites where everything happened.
Schindler’s Museum opened our eyes to the extent of the suffering people underwent under the Nazi regime and overwhelmed us with just how many people Schindler managed to save from the concentration camps they would otherwise be subjected to. A day in Auschwitz-Birkenau gave a realistic picture of how people were treated in the camps that made the war so famous, as well as why escapes were rare and how Maximilian Kolbe saved the life of a man in the camps by forfeiting his own life in his place. As for Krakow itself, a guided tour enabled us to learn about the city’s history during the earlier half of the 20thcentury, as well as showing us iconic locations from the film ‘Schindler’s List’, particularly from the scenes in the ghettos.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was an unforgettable experience, one that changes the perception of a person as they face daily life. The revelations of the suffering people felt and how the guards were able to maintain the level of atrocity in the camps were shocking, especially when how the secrecy and lack of rebellion were maintained throughout the camps. However, after such horror we visited a place of such beauty; the Wieliczka Salt Mines was absolutely phenomenal, with carvings throughout the mines and an extravagant cathedral 327m below the surface, a cathedral many would recognise as Tolkien’s inspiration for the Mines of Moria from ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
A small number of St. Mary’s students accompanied us on our endeavour, something that brought a unique element to an already extraordinary experience. And, whilst we missed the Christmas Markets, it was undoubtedly something we shall never forget.
Written by Abbie Christelow