History students from West Lakes Academy have visited concentration camps in Germany and Poland to support their GCSE and A Level studies and experience history outside the classroom.

The students spent time in Krakow, Poland, where they attended Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Then they took in Berlin’s famous landmarks such as checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin wall and Humboldt University, before seeing Sachsenhausen concentration camp, in Oranienburg.

Grant Tebay, teacher at the academy said: “Students have had an experience that they will remember forever. Despite the sun shining, the mood was certainly solemn. Students have had tours of Auschwitz and Birkenau, led by family members of Holocaust survivors. They have witnessed some of the most infamous places in recent history. The students all agreed that it was an eye opening experience, but a harrowing one.”

Year 11 student, John Oakes, said: “I thought the tour was good because we didn’t just walk around museums and exhibits, we got to see bits of city that perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to see. My favourite part was the Holocaust Memorial, there are so many different interpretations you can make, which I think is very important.”

Year 13 student, Logan Adshead, said: “The tour was fantastic, being able to see sights from textbooks and documentaries in the flesh.”

Jonathan Rush, head of history, said: “We visit Krakow to experience the culture of Poland, visit sites important to events of the Cold War and to visit Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau. We then travel to Berlin to experience one of the largest cities in Europe.

“Once there, we have the opportunity to visit sites that compliment both the GCSE and A Level curriculum such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate. Additionally, we are able to aid our GCSE Weimar and Nazi Germany studies by visiting Sachenhausen concentration camp, the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag Building. However, fundamentally the visit allows the students to experience history outside the classroom.”