When is a Child No Longer a Child?

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When is a child no longer a child?

  • Is it when he/she discovers that Santa Claus does not really exist?
  • Or is it perhaps when the child realises that he/she will not live forever…that one day they will die?

A wonderful christmas with family and friends at Lineham Farm was followed by an impromptu visit to Krakow, Poland. New Year’s Eve 2012/13 started with a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau. As you can imagine, the weather was decidedly cold. Walking into the camp through the gates under the banner, ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ was even more chilling.

It soon became apparent that it was almost impossible to comprehend the sheer scale of what took place in Europe during 1930s and 1940s. Of the 1.3 million people who entered Auschwitz, 1.1 million perished in the most brutal of circumstances.

Wandering through the buildings brought to mind Dave Hulston’s work on Whispered Histories, in which he talks about listening to the voices of people who have trodden past paths. In the case of Auschwitz, it is not just the voices but the screams and wails of sheer terror.

The images and text which narrate the history of the people in this place make you question man’s inhumanity to man. I tried to capture my own images from the camps but it genuinely was a hopeless task.

Having lived and worked in Bradford, the exhibtion highlighting the plight of the Roma and Sinti people was particularly poignant. The images of these families, particularly those of the children and the looks in their eyes, will haunt me forever.

The exhibition included the words of George Santayana:

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”.

How we teach our own children about the Holocaust continues to be open to debate. There are many organisations and websites dedicated to the subject, some more valuable than others.

Highly recommended is the work of the Peace Museum, which includes details about the forthcoming Build a Bridge event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2013.

For further insights visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

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