Auschwitz saw record attendance this year as almost 2 million people visited the former Nazi concentration camp. The UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust was praised as a ‘role model of responsible education’ by the museum at the former Nazi camp.
2015 was the previous record (1.7 million) but this figure had been surprassed by October.
Britain in particular sent 220, 000 visitors to the site and English is the most popular language for the site’s 283 guides.
Pawel Sawicki, of the Auschwitz memorial, said, “When you look at the attendance, the number of British visitors is always somewhere in the top three countries. It’s usually Poland first, which can be reasonably explained because the memorial’s in Poland. And then it’s usually the US and UK.”
The Work of the Holocaust Educational Trust
The UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), takes thousands of children on organised school trips to Auschwitz each year. Mr. Sawickl highlighted HET as a “role model of responsible education”.
HET chief executive Karen Pollock said, “Government funding to ensure young people visit Auschwitz is a strong endorsement. Not only of HET’s work but why the cause is important and why it’s important to see the site.
“It’s incredible that we may be one of the highest number of visitors. I think it is something to do with the fact we take 3, 000 young people a year who otherwise would never be visiting. Certainly not at that age. Many of them have never been on an aeroplane before.
“For them it’s a massive, eye-opening experience. Then they come back and pass on the impact of that visit. That probably makes other people curious, as they talk to their parents, wider family and local communities.
“There are lots of incredible films and documentaries you often will hear or watch, lots of books constantly coming out, there’s a clear interest in that period.
Part of the Fabric of Who We Are
“You’ve got a Holocaust gallery in the Imperial War Museum. There is the Holocaust on the national curriculum. There is the fact there were British people who helped save Jews during the Holocaust like (British Secret Intelligence Service officer) Frank Foley. All these things make it part of the fabric of who we are.
“And now we’ve got a Government that’s going to be ensuring we have a national Holocaust memorial right by Parliament. It couldn’t be more clear the subject plays an important role for us as a society, and I don’t think just historically.”
She added that the influence of visits from high-profile figures such as England footballer Wayne Rooney helped raise awareness about the importance of the memorial site.
“It was on the front and back pages. I do wonder if, when you hear them say ‘This is important’, that plays a part in reaching wider audiences.”
Main image Rodrigo Paredes Flick cc