Why does humanity never learn from history?

"Anyone who does not remember history is condemned to relive it" (quote from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana at the entrance to Block 4 in Auschwitz)

On February 14, 2020, 39 pupils in grade 12 made their way to a premiere at the German School in Porto: a study trip to Krakow in Poland, combined with a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial. Why go there? In the history class we dealt with the subject of the Holocaust and many students showed great interest, but also uncertainty and confusion. Together with our teachers we then discussed the possibility of organizing a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and within a short time the idea turned into a four-day study trip, to which D.Marina, Mr. Dreyer, Mr. Flender and Mr. Ritter accompanied us. We stayed in a nice hostel in the former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, from where we could easily reach the sights of the city and cheap but authentic restaurants on foot.

(Thea Brabetz, 12A)

“For me personally, this trip was more than a study trip. Last week we had just finished our written Abitur and had perhaps the most stressful month of our school career so far. Is there anything better than going on one last trip together with the people you have spent the last few years with? My expectations of the trip were exceeded, as the beautiful Krakow impressed me very much and I was able to get to know the architecture of an Eastern European city for the first time. After graduating from high school, I was able to spend a nice and carefree time here with my best friends and got to know a different culture. The low prices and the nice weather contributed to the good atmosphere. In contrast, there was our visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial. Although we were well prepared through the lessons and actually knew what to expect, what we saw shook me ... "

(Francisco Pérez, 12A)

“Like no other place, the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination and concentration camp is symbolic of the incredible crimes committed by the National Socialists in the course of the Second World War. I am visiting this place for the second time, but for the first time together with school classes: Should and may one expose pupils to Auschwitz? A controversial question in education. The reactions of the pupils to what they see are very different: bewilderment, astonishment, confusion, anger, defiance ... At the end of the six-hour tour, however, I am sure: Yes, one should expose pupils to Auschwitz, because anyone who has witnessed this incredible crime has seen, will do its part in the future to ensure that something like this never happens again. The tour, led at an exceptionally high level and with great empathy, culminates in a groundbreaking conclusion: Auschwitz is not only a memorial to the past, but can also be seen as a symbol of forgiveness and international understanding. "

(Julian Dreyer, teacher)

 

“You can hear a motorcycle racing by. We then turn around, the neon green machine disappears into the landscape. It seems surreal and out of place here, in the immediate vicinity of the Birkenau extermination camp. After the six-hour tour, I unconsciously try to distract myself with other thoughts. I notice the sign with the opening times; Comparison of the Polish with the German language; In winter the time for visitors is limited: Logically, the cold and the short days. A strange feeling overcomes me as if in a trance. I don't know where to start, repressing what I've seen because it's too much. We walk a few meters to the bus, greet the driver as if nothing had happened. Probably not the first and not the last time that he goes to Auschwitz. Instead of 'DSP-Julian Dreyer' there is a different name on the front of the window. Many sleep on the drive back to Krakow - are they processing what they have experienced in dreams? Again and again a picture flashes before my eyes: The gate of the main camp with the cynical saying 'Work makes you free'. Anyone who has not seen the cruel death machine Auschwitz with their own eyes cannot imagine the extent of the destruction of human life. Finding your inner balance is the most difficult. But we must try the best: honor the victims and show our compassion towards the people who have been mistreated, tortured and murdered by valuing our own happiness in life. Each and every one of us will be accompanied by Auschwitz in the future. "

(Sofia Barros, 12A)

“The remaining hair, thousands of shoes, worn toothbrushes and shaving brushes - remnants from the individual fates of more than a million victims of Nazi terror. In a long corridor I look at the photographed faces of former prisoners who lived in this horror and who were murdered here. They had to suffer here; they were separated from their families; they were tortured and tortured. I have a lump in my throat and tears run down my cheeks. All of this cannot be indifferent to one, history must not be trivialized.

While walking through Auschwitz and Birkenau I could only pray, pray for the victims, the survivors, the relatives, but also for the National Socialists, who did not recognize the monstrosity of their deeds. But above all, I pray for future generations who will hopefully never have to experience something like this again. In Auschwitz, people were no longer human and they were aware of it. What one felt there will never be able to be described by words, is not even imaginable through this visit. But I know: I will never forget what I saw in Auschwitz. "

(Maria Carvalho, 12A)

“How can a person do this to another person? I dealt with this question most intensively during the tour in Auschwitz. I haven't found an answer. Although I left Auschwitz without answers and in shock, I also learned something: We shouldn't take our life and everyday life for granted and we should intervene to help even if an injustice does not directly affect us.

(Mariana Mattausch, 12A)

“In my opinion, you have to separate the evaluation of the study trip in terms of content: On the one hand, we experienced an interesting and beautiful city in Krakow, in which we had a lot of fun together and which Mr. Ritter brought us closer through his great city tours. On the other hand, with Auschwitz we experienced one of the saddest stories in the world. "

(João Lorenz, 12A)