By Daniil Isaev – 2nd year LLB student
Auschwitz-Birkenau, some might wonder why Auschwitz. Why does nobody speak as much about Treblinka, Sobibor, Dachau and other numerous camps. Some might also question the decision as to why Auschwitz-Birkenau is still standing as other extermination camps, the likes of Treblinka have been whipped of the map for good. However, it is vital that we shall never forget that Auschwitz was the largest death factory ever created, a place where human virtue was not existent, a place where death was at every step, a place where human suffering had no limits.
There have been thousands of books written on the Holocaust and how it came to be. Great minds such as Ian Kershaw, Christopher Browning and Lucy Dawidowicz all have tried to explain and describe the horrors of the Holocaust. The numerous heart-breaking testimonials of the survivors and brilliant movies such as the Schindler’s list have explained the Holocaust in an even broader light. Even the books written by the regimes key players, such as Albert Speer or Rudolf Hoess, let us in to the mind of the perpetrators. This, nonetheless, creates an unfortunate paradox as the more we learn about the Holocaust the less we can understand.
The political times we are living in are troublesome. Populism, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise. We can now see clearly fascist parties on the brink of power, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, to give but one example. What makes their rise even more horrifying is that such hateful movements are being carried by sways of young people who either do not know their history or are using a trend of revisionist history to justify their actions. Fake news is also an important factor; hundreds of videos can now be found on YouTube mostly produced by young creators who argue that the Holocaust was a hoax. It is important to remember that the Holocaust did not just happen, the Holocaust was caused by a long chain of events by dividing the people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ by creating ghettos and borders by hateful propaganda. A lot of atrocities during the war were committed by brainwashed masses- 20 years of propaganda took its toll. At a time when a lot of young people are frustrated, mainly due to an economic downturn and as the result high unemployment, old and new prejudice tends to rise and whilst lessons in school and historical books on the Holocaust are not to be disregarded they do not describe the suffering the people felt as they were walking in through the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Every young person should visit Auschwitz in their lifetime to see the worst man had done. To see with their own eyes what blind hatred had caused, to feel the suffering of innocent people, to see where mothers and kids were shot and gassed with no remorse. To finally understand how hatred nearly led to the destruction of the whole people.
Late November of last year, the Law school of UCLan Cyprus in cooperation with AEQUITAS organised an essay competition which would provide five lucky winners with a 300 euro stipend for the field trip to Auschwitz- Birkenau.
Candidates had to prepare a 500 word essay on ‘why they think it is important for a young person to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau’.
Well done for winning a place Daniil!