The Holocaust is considered one of the darkest periods in human history.
Students at Carbonear Collegiate got the re-live it step-by-step during the school’s trip to Europe.
Before and during the Second World War, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany committed one of the deadliest genocides in history when they killed some six million Jewish people in Europe from 1933 to 1945.
Carbonear Collegaite teacher Edward Jarvis organized the tour with the Holocaust in mind. His healthy interest in the subject fed his desire to turn the Europe experience into an educational one for his students.
“It was pretty powerful. I’ve got an interest in Holocaust history after meeting a couple of Holocaust survivors. It’s important that the students don’t just go on these trips just to go on a trip. That they go on these trips with a purpose,” said the teacher.
Learning and living an important piece of history can only be a boon to their overall feeling surrounding the trip.
At the end of the tour, the group visited the AuschwitzhBirkenau concentration camp in Poland. It’s estimated 1.1 million Jews met their deaths at the camps.
For students and teachers, visiting the place where so many atrocities took place can be emotional.
Students like Carbonear’s Cherish Griffin and New Perlican’s Trevor Piercey looked forward to experiencing the much talked about site.
“When you get there, it’s ghostly and it’s haunting,” said Griffin. “You feel like something is on you. It’s so much to take in. Even if it’s just a row of buildings, just knowing that so much had happened there. It was crazy.
“I remember when I left the camp … I felt uplifted. I felt like I could breathe again.”
For Piercey, the weather above Auschwitz never quite matched up with the rest of the area.
There was a different sense when you walked through the crumbling camp.
“Even the weather around there. The wind could be a little bit warm, but the air around you always felt chilly,” he said. “If there was a place in the world where there would be ghosts, it’d be Auschwitz.”
Students visited more than a dozen historically significant locales in Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia over the course of 10 days. This included a walking tour of Berlin, including stops at the Berlin Wall and the Jewish Museum.
The tour continued to Prague where the students were afforded the opportunity to take a tour through Josefov. For centuries, Josefov was used as a living space for the jewish people prior to their purging under Nazi occupation in the Second World War.
From that point, there were stops at concentration camps in Terezin, Auschwitz and Birkenau before concluding the trip in Karkow, Poland with a visit to the factory of Oskar Schindler.
Seeing it first hand
Both Griffin and Piercey studied history during their time at Carbonear Collegiate. They’re set to graduate in June.
They’ve read about the places they visited and imagined what it’d be like to be there.
But, it was something else to live it for a couple of days. Seeing the architecture, living the culture and eating the food are integral parts to any Education First (EF) tour.
“I don’t think you’d take as much from the trip if you didn’t take history or religion,” said Piercey. “I’d find it hard to go over all of the topics we did this year and not find something we didn’t experience over there.”
“That’s why you take the world history and the world religion and the purpose of learning about all of this stuff,” added Griffin. “Not even if you travel, but when you meet someone from a different country or you experience a different culture, you can understand the differences and you can understand why it is they do these things.”
McDonald’s is everywhere. With 35,000 restaurants worldwide — 1,939 of them between the three countries they visited — there’s ample opportunity for students to get a Big Mac if they want one.
One problem for the portion of the Carbonear crowd that fancied a pair of Canadian all-beef patties with Big Mac sauce, however. Jarvis was a stickler when it came to where they ate.
“You can get your McDonald’s anywhere. We tried to stay clear of the McDonalds and try some of that local cuisine,” said Jarvis.
“(Jarvis) wouldn’t let us eat it,” said Piercey.
The wind could be a little bit warm, but the air around you always felt chilly. If there was a place in the world where there would be ghosts, it’d be Auschwitz. Trevor Piercey
This year’s Carboenar Collegiate contingent that travelled to Europe traced the steps of the Holocaust.