In the latest in our series of blogs commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Matt Willer reflects on his visit to Auschwitz with the Trust 2006, and tells of how it has shaped his worldview since.
When I think about my participation on the Lessons From Auschwitz Project, back in November 2006, I very clearly remember that I spontaneously, out of nowhere, came to a solid conclusion about what exactly I wanted to do with my life: to teach other people.
Yes, of course I remember the extremely early start and the flight over to Kraków and how so very tired I was when I finally returned home. But, it was this one day’s experience and the talk before we visited the camp by Holocaust survivor Kitty Hart-Moxon that had, and very much continues to have, a profound effect upon me.
Shortly after participating in Lessons from Auschwitz I went on to study history as an undergraduate and later as a postgraduate when, as part of my academic research, I journeyed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia to meet people who have survived the Srebrenica genocide of 1995 and places such as the Omarska concentration camp. I voluntarily chose to go to, not just for academic merit, but to learn and comprehend for myself how, even after the Holocaust, human atrocities have continued and still continue to happen throughout the world. However, why I really went to Bosnia-Herzegovina was because of that day back in November 2006; the day I went to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Auschwitz-Birkenau should serve as a permanent reminder of what we human beings are capable of, but the fundamental question remains: when will people learn? Part of the answer to this paramount question is arguably to be found within the future generations that we educate today, this is why I will forever remain a staunch supporter of the remarkable work that the Holocaust Educational Trust does for young people; people like myself.
Alongside my current training as a history teacher, I voluntarily visit schools and sixth-form colleges to hold assemblies and lessons about atrocities committed in the Balkans; why do I do this? Because of my Lessons from Auschwitz visit back in November 2006.