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Students gain deeper understanding on thought-provoking Polish trip

Pupils pose for a photo during the Religious Studies and History trip to Krakow

50 Fifth Year pupils studying History and Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at GCSE gained more contextual understanding of the topics covered in the classroom as they visited the Polish city of Krakow.

During the four-day trip they learnt more about the conditions that led to World War Two, the Holocaust and other subsequent events.

Upon arriving in the city, the group were eager to explore their surroundings. As they walked around the Old Town, they admired the stunning architecture of the cathedral, castle and a number of churches. They also paid a visit to the Christmas Markets.

The following day the pupils made their way to Kazimierz, the city’s historic Jewish Quarter. They were surprised to note that not many synagogues remained – a sign of the horrors and destruction of the Holocaust.

One of the synagogues that is still standing is the Remuh Synagogue. The adjoining cemetery contains the graves of many significant historical figures and it was a poignant moment for the students to take a bit of time to reflect on the past.

A moving art installation on the site of the former Jewish ghetto that commemorated the many Jewish lives that were destroyed as a result of Nazi persecution was another thought-provoking moment for the pupils.

The final location for the day was Schindler’s Factory Museum. Here they learnt more about the German industrialist and the people he employed and helped.

Day three saw the travellers head to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most infamous concentration camp in Europe.

The majority of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau – approximately a million people – and a large majority of this number were Jews.

The last day of the trip saw the pupils leave Krakow to take an immersive tour around the UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mines. The group enjoyed exploring the deep, 13th century, mines as they took in the fascinating art and architecture – including the beautiful etched walls.

Head of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics Mr Jamie Swann said: “The trip to Krakow was a huge success. Over four very busy days the pupils had the opportunity to explore Krakow – one of Europe’s most beautiful and important cities – to gain a deeper understanding of the broader historical and cultural conditions that led to World War Two and the Holocaust, as well as subsequent events, including the Soviet occupation and eventual break from Communist rule in 1991.

“The trip really brought to life the learning from the classroom and it was an extremely rewarding experience.”