Tomorrow we will be visiting Bergen-Belsen to participate in international commemorations to mark 70 years since its liberation. Ahead of this visit, Regional Ambassador Callum Devine has blogged on why he wanted to be part of the delegation.
The commemorative visit to Bergen-Belsen on Sunday will give us all a chance mark the anniversary of the liberation of the camp. Upon hearing about this opportunity to visit the camp that the British troops liberated, I simply couldn’t resist. As a Regional Ambassador this visit offers another chance to further extend my understanding of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is such a vast chapter in human history, which means you can never stop learning something new.
The visit to Bergen-Belsen poses and intriguing opportunity for me; when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2012 as part of the Trust's Lessons from Auschwitz Project I only had a general understanding of the Holocaust. I could not have predicted what the experience would be like; to have what I had read in textbooks come to life. The sheer size of the camp really caught me by surprise. However since then my knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust has increased significantly. This is largely because of trips to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem where I became immersed in the Jewish culture, and to the United States Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. where I learnt great amounts about the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust. These trips alongside hearing a number of survivor’s share their testimony; will allow me to use the visit to Belsen to view a concentration camp through more experienced eyes. I am intrigued to see what stands out to me and whether I feel different emotions especially once we return to Britain. I feel a much deeper connection to the individual stories of victims and survivors of Nazi persecution.
The British connection to Bergen-Belsen and Britain also played a large role in why I wanted to join the Trusts commemorative delegation on Sunday. What the British troops found and the reports that came out of the camp really brought home the horrors and extremes of Nazi persecution. Although a place of horror, the camp upon liberation offered hope and a chance to feel human again, something I never really considered when visiting Auschwitz.
As a Regional Ambassador it is incredibly important to be involved in international commemorative events because as young people, we are the future of Holocaust remembrance. The marking of the 70th anniversary is even more important as we will soon be without the first hand testimony of survivors. These events therefore give us the opportunity to reflect and begin to think how we can use the lessons we have learnt to ensure never again are we faced with man’s inhumanity to man.