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Visiting Auschwitz: A Journey of Reflection

Last updated: Jan 29th, 2024


For us, history is so much more than a school subject – it’s ingrained in our very being, through our experiences, our interests and our connections.

Members of our team have grown up in some of the very history trip destinations we take our groups to. They’ve seen the famous landmarks, conversed with locals, immersed themselves in the timelines – the lot!

So without further ado… It’s time to meet Marek, one of our fantastic Tour Coordinators! Growing up in Poland, he has encountered the harrowing history of Auschwitz throughout his years, and his perspective and insights have developed with each and every visit.

Join us as we delve deep into his experiences and insights surrounding Nazi Germany’s history…

 

Marek Malec

Tour Co-ordinator

Marek’s Experience…

 

I was born in Kraków and before I moved to the UK, I had several opportunities to visit what has come to be known as the most infamous Nazi concentration camp – Auschwitz.

I remember the first trip I made there when I was 12 years old. It was a chilling experience, despite my limited appreciation of the horrors that took place there. I recall seeing the conditions prisoners were exposed to, the signs with skulls on wire fences and the overall terrifying atmosphere of the camp. Yet I don’t think I fully understood just what horrors took place there at the time.

My second trip was when I was 15. The chambers full of people’s belongings who had their lives cut short struck home a lot more that time. It was a surreal experience, pacing in a state not unlike when you have just avoided an accident – this numb feeling that makes you walk around like in a bad dream but with muted senses, like you’re not fully there.

As a Pole, it was important to me to see Auschwitz again when I turned 18. I felt more mature and educated, yet despite my previous two visits, I was woefully unprepared for what I was about to see again. However, although I’m writing this with chills going down my spine at the thought of the crimes which took place there and my hands are typing in that half-conscious state, I must say, a visit there is one that should be made by everyone at least once. Not just to pay respects to victims of the Nazi regime and educate us, but as a warning for us not to repeat mistakes from the past.

About four years ago, I spoke with my grandmother. I never took much interest in where my family came from, but this one day I thought it’d be nice to learn something new about my roots, so I asked my grandmother about her parents. She told me that her father, my great grandfather, escaped from a train headed to Auschwitz during the war. She said others attempted this with him and were shot at – whether they made it, she didn’t know. Fortunately for me, my great grandfather has managed to evade capture and went into hiding near a lake by the Kraków Płaszów train station until the end of the war.

I am now 30 years old and travelling to Auschwitz again in a couple of weeks with my soon to be wife, with a whole new perspective on the terror and irrefutable influence of Nazi Germany’s Final Solution on the modern world, a testimony how history has long lasting and palpable effects on our lives. Had my great grandfather not made it, I would likely not be here today. I can’t help but think of it whenever I visit the little Lake in Kraków where I used to go fishing as a child, oblivious to how significant the place was to my family.

 

 

A Journey of Discovery…

 

There you have it…Marek’s account of his experience in Auschwitz is quite something.
Visits to poignant historical sites like Auschwitz can unravel all sorts of connections and stories.

As Marek said, history has long lasting and palpable effects on our lives, and Poland can be the very destination that shapes young minds.

Want to create this opportunity for your students? Our team are ready to make it happen.

 

Contact Us

 

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