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June 21, 2015
Before Mrs Warrender travelled to Auschwitz she had already had the privilege of meeting a Holocaust survivor, Rudi Oppenheimer, who shared stories about his life, living as a Jew during World War II and his survival of Belsen. This gave Mrs Warrender a new perspective on the Holocaust as she now had a person to link with the events. This was something that stayed with her throughout her day at Auschwitz and inevitably amplified the emotional impact of the visit.
As an RE teacher, when Mrs Warrender has taught the Holocaust, she would show the painful images showing piles of shoes and glasses that would never be worn again. It would always hit hard but now, with Rudi Oppenheimer’s image imprinted on her mind, she confronted the true reality of the horrors that played out. The piles of shoes had become humanised and the subsequent reflection on the sheer scale of this unspeakable crime hit home harder than ever before. It has inspired Mrs Warrender to embrace the teaching of the Holocaust like never before. Who were the mums, the dads, the children, the husbands, the wives, the brothers and the sisters who wore the shoes? What was their story?
“Like never before, I feel it is important to remember the people and their lives. The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” (Mrs Warrender)
Whilst the trip was emotionally and physically draining, it has had a profound impact on Mrs Warrender and has reinforced the importance of keeping the memory alive.