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Greek Education Ministry honours students on Auschwitz visit and video projects Print E-mail
Monday, 04 July 2016 11:23

Greek Education Ministry posted on its website the following article:

Education, Research and Religious Affairs Minister Nikos Filis today honoured the 81 secondary school students who travelled to Auschwitz, Poland to visit the infamous Nazi death camp. The event was also attended by the Ministry General Secretary of Relegious Affairs Giorgos Kalatzis.

The students were chosen in a competition of videos on the Holocaust, and came from both general and technical high schools in Athens, Patras, and Larissa, and those that took the floor were at time overtaken by emotion. One girl said her grandfather was a Roma communist with Jewish friends who escaped the camps through sheer luck. Another presented a heart wrenching narrative of how she imagined a girl reacting to her mother’s death camp execution and seeking solace in the embrace of the surviving grandfather.

Many of the students drew direct connections between the horrors of WWII Nazism and the dangers of a fascist resurgence in Greece, Europe and the world in our day. The acceptance and embrace of minorities and the other, such as the refugees and migrants today, was among the key lessons gleaned by the students both in their school projects and the journey to Auschwitz.

The cost of the three-day trip – in two separate groups - was covered through various sources - partly by the ministry, partly by the Jewish Museum of Greece,  and in part from private donations. When the programme started three years ago only about two dozen students went, and that number gradually increased to over 80 this year.

In brief presentations and videos, shown in the Galatia Saranti auditorium of the education ministry, the students struggled to express the feelings they had when standing at the site of mass racist annihilation and stressed the need for vigilance against a resurgence of racism and fascism in our day.

“The dead are the dead of the peoples. It is people who hurt, bleed and cry over the dead. Those who perished at Auschwitz are not statistical numbers, but people with personalities, and we must view them as such,” said Katerina K, a student who went on the journey. “We must regain our humanity. This is all we can do to honour the memory of the dead. We must not let such horror pass, not let the monster (of fascism) arise from its ashes. Walls are being erected everywhere, wars, new camps ready to host the new imaginary enemy. We must learn from the past so as not to repeat the same errors,” she concluded.

“People scream but no one listens, they run to survive but no one helps, and some see the horrors but remain inert, entranced by one person. There are minds with small ideas that are born hoping to conquer the world, destroying everything in their path. Don’t worry, because such people will be defeated, because the need of the many for freedom is stronger than everything, and united they can defeat all enemies in the end. They say history repeats itself. But you know what? If the things that happened are repeated, I don’t want to live through it,” said student Margarita K.

“We often confront difficult concepts that transcend the average person’s understanding, like the size of a muon particle, the uncertainty principle, or Schrödinger’s cat. These require advanced intellectual capacity. But there are questions such as, “What is the Holocaust, and what happened at Auschwitz and other death camps?”,that don’t require advanced scientific knowledge, but still remain blurry and inadequately explained in the minds of many, said Chrysa R., a student at the Glyfada general high school.

Source: Web site of the Education Ministry


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