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Project to mark 75th anniversary of concentration camp liberation opens for schools

5 December 2019

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and the Holocaust Educational Trust have joined together to produce a project where schools can visit the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. The project also includes resources to educate the next generation about the Holocaust.

Memorial at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Image from Chripps via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

State-funded schools, colleges and sixth forms can apply for places on the Belsen 75 Programme of Visits, part of a unique commemorative project to mark 75 years since the liberation of the former Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen by British Forces in 2020.

The trips will see two student representatives and one teacher from each educational institute with post-16 provision attend the trip, before returning to educate their classmates and communities about this period of history and to give their first-hand account. Places for the visits are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis and will cost £40 per participant.

The project, which brings this dark passage of world history to life, will be jointly delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the IOE’s UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, with support from the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and Government funding recently awarded by the Department for Education. 

All schools will receive access to educational resources and be encouraged to mark and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation next April in their own way, giving students the chance to reflect on its continuing relevance and meaning of the Holocaust today.

Holocaust Survivor Susan Pollack, who was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945 said: “If it wasn’t for that British soldier who picked me up and saved me, I wouldn’t be here today. On liberation, I was virtually a corpse, unable to walk, and would soon have died.

“It is our duty to tell others this story. After being liberated, I thought to myself, health permitting, that I will teach in schools. That I will share my story because others can’t. That is the commitment I made when I was liberated from Bergen-Belsen.”

Executive Director UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, Professor Foster, commented: “UCL Centre of Holocaust Education is delighted to have partnered with the Holocaust Educational Trust on Belsen 75. This project will profoundly support students and their teachers to deepen their understanding of the agonising and unimaginable task that faced British troops as they liberated Bergen-Belsen in April 1945."

Programme Director UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, Ruth-Anne Lenga, added: “Pupils will hear from those who were there and testified to the true extent of Nazi crimes perpetrated against innocent men, women and children during the Holocaust. They will also learn about the efforts made by the British to bury the dead, contain the spread of disease and save the lives of those who, without immediate care, would have surely perished."

Holocaust Educational Trust Chief Executive, Karen Pollock MBE, commented: “This is a momentous opportunity to commemorate this key event in our nation’s collective history and to educate even more people about what happened during the Holocaust.

“As we approach the 75th anniversary since the liberation of the former camp, this is now our last chance to witness the first-hand testimonies of survivors from Bergen-Belsen, and the camp’s liberators, ensuring that young people across the country properly understand Britain’s connection to the Holocaust.

“We look forward to working with our partners to make sure that this project can leave a lasting legacy, so that this and future generations can continue to remember.”

The UCL Centre for Holocaust Education is nominated in Made at UCL, which showcases the top 100 UCL projects that improve lives and communities and create real world impact.

Vote for the Centre for Holocaust Education in Made at UCL

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