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.