A Level History students at Nelson and Colne College Sixth Form have enjoyed a trip to Krakow in Poland as part of their studies.

Nelson and Colne College Sixth Form has a long-standing tradition of excellence in the provision of A Level History and the trip to Poland has become an important part of the course. The main focus of the trip was to visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenhau which greatly aids the students’ understanding of the Holocaust, which is an important part of the current ‘Totalitarian Ideology” AS course. An estimated 1.5 million deaths were recorded at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and the students were able to tour the surviving accommodation blocks, gas chamber and crematorium.

A highly emotive location, the visit to Auschwitz really helps to drive home the enormity of the atrocities which occurred during Nazi occupation. One of the most emotional parts of the visit saw students looking at pictures found following the camp’s liberation, which highlighted the personal stories of some of the victims.

In addition to visiting Auschwitz, the students were able to visit the famous Wieliczka Salt Mines on the outskirts of Krakow. This spectacular mine (which is an original UNESCO World Heritage Site) is over 700 years old and 190 miles long in total. Students visited the chapels and chambers carved entirely out of salt and up to 135 meters below the ground.
In addition to these visits, the students were able to take part in a traditional Folklore Evening. This consisted of a meal at a Polish restaurant and displays of traditional Polish dancing. Both students and teachers were asked to take part in dancing towards the end of the meal to finish an exceptionally rewarding and enjoyable visit.

A Level student Lisa Collett said “I was grateful for the opportunity to go to Poland and experience life there. Auschwitz was a surreal experience; it left me speechless. It was hard to even begin imagining the horror they must have experienced” and her classmate Lauren Richardson agreed, saying, “Auschwitz was a haunting and emotional experience yet really put our lessons into context. I found I came out of it realising how lucky I am.”

History tutor Edward Fuller accompanied the students and said, “The trip to Krakow is a key part of the Humanities Department’s enrichment programme. Visits to Auschwitz-Birkenhau are always highly emotional experiences that allow students to take in the scale of Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust. It is therefore not just important in the study of History but in the process of becoming fully rounded citizens.”