On the 22nd January, Senior Lecturer Ian Turner took a group of students from Lancashire Law School to Poland to visit the city of Krakow and the Nazi Labour Camp at Auschwitz. Students got the opportunity to visit the camp and take in the deep history and meaning behind the experience.
Poland is a historically large country, they lost their independence in the 19th century before gaining it back after World War I. The country was occupied by the Germans in World War II and Auschwitz I originally housed members of the Polish resistance. The well-known sign above the gates of Auschwitz I (which reads: “Arbeit Macht Frei” – “Work Will Make You Free”) was indeed crafted by a Polish prisoner and placed on top of the gates before the introduction of the Death Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. During World War II the Nazi’s committed over a million Jews and political prisoners to death in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi’s experimented with these prisoners using gas as a means of mass extermination at Auschwitz I. The death camp that was built alongside the Labour Camp was constructed by the prisoners themselves and became known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Death Camp in Europe. Unlike most labour/death camps, Auschwitz was liberated instead of being destroyed and now stands as the world famous museum it is today to remind people of the cruelty of war. This year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The group arrived on Thursday (22nd) afternoon and first visited the Oskar Schindler Museum. The story of Oskar Schindler is most often associated with either the Thomas Keneally novel ‘Schindler’s Arc’ or the Oscar award winning film ‘Schindler’s List’ by Stephen Spielberg but is in fact a true story. Oskar Schindler used his factory to save the lives of over 700 Jews by giving them a place to work. Since the end of the war the factory has been transformed into a museum to commemorate his work. On the first night the group visited the Market Square in Krakow which is one of the largest in Europe. The square provided much festivity as the Polish do not take down their Christmas trees until February 2nd as part of ‘Candlemass’ (40 Days since birth of Jesus).
The tour of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau took place on Friday morning, the group were guided under the famous gates and were able to look around the museum with the help of their Polish guide. Whilst at the museum the group had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Memorial which remembers all the people who died at the camps. During the afternoon the group was treated to a tour of Krakow. They witnessed spectacular sights including Wawel Castle and The Cathedral. On Saturday morning, before departing home the group were given the opportunity to explore the city where some took the opportunity to visit the Salt Mines.
The trip was a huge success with students taking many positives from their experience. At Lancashire Law School we are committed to giving our students a fantastic experience by providing opportunities like this throughout the whole of the academic year, just where will we be going next?