In February, 28 Year 12 Psychology students flew to Poland for a short but feature-packed trip. We were there to visit the beautiful city of Krakow. However, this was not a sightseeing trip; we were there to visit the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was the scene of unspeakable atrocities during WW2, witnessing the systematic execution of over 1 million people: a dark time in recent human history, known as the holocaust.
Our weekend began with a VERY early flight. Once we had arrived in Krakow, we had the opportunity to try some traditional Polish street food – Zapiekanka, a toasted, open-faced sandwich – as well some other snacks such as waffles and ice-cream, despite the cold weather. This was followed by a walking tour of the Jewish quarter, Kaziemierz, with our tour guide, Monika. We really enjoyed the tour as it gave us an in-depth insight into what it would have been like as a Jewish person living in Nazi occupied Poland, having to hide in fear of being caught or being sent away from your home and family.
The following morning, we ensured we had lots of layers to wear as it was -5 degrees and we set off on our journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau. On the coach we watched a DVD in preparation for what we were going to see on the tour, highlighting some of the horrible things that happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau. One thing that was quite surreal was the videos of the children who suffered and how they couldn’t really comprehend what was happening to them. The tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau was insightful as much as it was harrowing. It was an experience we were grateful to have had as it’s important to try and understand why these sorts of events happen and how we can try to prevent them from occurring again. As part of our A-level Psychology course, we look at the concept of obedience and what factors may influence a person to obey. We have to relate this to the Holocaust to try and explain the behaviour of the Nazi soldiers and why they obeyed the orders to harm and kill millions of innocent people.
In the afternoon, we had a walking tour of Krakow Old Town, including Wawel Castle and St Mary’s Basilica. This was followed by some free time to explore the large market square, taking in the beautiful architecture and local stalls. The evening was spent having dinner at a Polish restaurant before heading back to our hotel.
This was one of the best trips we’ve ever been on and we want to thank Mrs Simmonds, Mrs Sykes and Mrs Miller for giving us an experience we won’t forget.
By Jasmine Cooper and Rosie Hough