Holocaust Educational Trust Blog

A space for featured guest bloggers and members of the Holocaust Educational Trust team to comment and reflect on timely issues.

"How was it allowed to happen?" BBC journalist Amy Lea on her two visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust

Amy Lea first took part in Lessons from Auschwitz when she was 16. 11 years on, she visited Auschwitz on LFA for a second time as a BBC journalist. Here she blogs on her differing experiences.

I first visited Auschwitz as a 16 year old – on the verge of womanhood and curious about history and the world. I felt numb after my visit to the camp – it was as if I couldn’t quite take it all in – and I struggled to process what I’d seen. It was a life changing experience – one where I felt my final grasp on childlike innocence slip away as I sat on the plane home.

11 years later in 2012, as a 27 year old broadcast journalist working for the BBC in the North East of England, I returned to Auschwitz to report on how young people – just like my 16 year old self – coped with the trip and what they took away from it. I had remembered it all exactly as I saw it before me – dark and desperately cold and haunting. It had not lost any of its impact.

I felt different this time. On the plane on the way home I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to make sure the world continues to be made aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. I struggled with feelings of guilt – how did this happen? How was it allowed to happen? I don’t know if I am any closer to answering these questions.

I know through my job as a journalist that the world and its communities can be so divided – but it is through my work that I have also been witness to great examples of human courage, dignity and togetherness – and it is these latter examples I will be holding onto this Holocaust Memorial Day.


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