By Karina Mendonca HET Young Ambassador
When I was at college, at the age of 16, I took part in the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project, which aims to teach sixthform students about the Holocaust and includes a one-day visit to Auschwitz.
At the camp I saw the horrendous conditions that people experienced in camps and suddenly realised how far hatred can develop if left uncontrolled. I will never forget the torture blocks and I know I will always remember seeing a suitcase in the camp with the name Peter on it.
It was a really small case, I presume a child’s, and I still wonder what happened to that little boy.
A textbook couldn’t have taught me what I learnt that day. I find it hard to answer the question: ‘How did you find the visit?’ but I know that I took so much from it.
Last year, I volunteered to support the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission survivor conference.
Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and refugees of Nazi persecution came together to share their thoughts on how future generations should remember.
I felt privileged to hear from so many survivors, but at the same time I realised we must gather their voices while we still can; time is short. Future generations will not hear from survivors, so those of us fortunate enough to hear from them now must carry the torch.
I am determined to play a part in doing so.
However, I’m aware that, sadly, there are many people across the world who are unaware of what happened in the Holocaust.
I realise that I, and my fellow regional ambassadors, have a role to play in ensuring that others learn about the Holocaust and remember what happened 70 years ago, which is why I have committed to this role.
I want to remember the stories of those who were murdered in, and those who survived, the Holocaust because I want the memory of people such as Peter – whose suitcase I saw at Auschwitz – to live on.