THE BLOG

Passing on the Baton to My Generation

25/07/2013 17:38 BST | Updated 25/07/2013 17:38 BST

Soon there will be no eyewitnesses left. No-one to tell us what happened during the Holocaust, of the people that died and of the centuries-old communities that were destroyed. The Holocaust happened over 70 years ago - and it is a sad fact that soon there will be no survivors left to give their testimony. So what then is to stop the darkest chapter in our history becoming just another tragic historical event, equal to massacres that have taken place hundreds of years ago, or worse, being forgotten?

In April 2012, aged 18, I travelled to the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau part of the Holocaust Educational Trust's (HET) Lessons from Auschwitz Project. I had learnt about the Holocaust in school before I went, but the visit brought out the individual human stories in a way that is not possible in the classroom. The Project was a life changing experience - as part of my preparation for the visit to Poland I heard the testimony of Holocaust survivor Susan Pollock, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau and whose family, some 50 relatives, were murdered by the Nazis.

The Project left me committed to learning more about the Holocaust, and sharing what I had learnt with others. I wanted to fulfill the survivors' wishes, to keep the history of the Holocaust alive for present and future generations.

Like all those who complete the Lessons from Auschwitz Project I became an Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, people who are committed to educating others about the Holocaust and its contemporary lessons. Wanting to become even more involved, when the opportunity presented itself earlier this year, I jumped at the chance to become a Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassador, one of 25 Regional Ambassadors representing different areas of the country. Together we encourage and coordinate the activities of the thousands of Ambassadors across the country.

The commitment that these young adults have is clear - on Monday 8th July, the Holocaust Educational Trust held their first ever Ambassador Conference, organised with the involvement of Regional Ambassadors. I was honoured to join over 500 young people in London who had come from all over the UK to deepen their knowledge of what is a complex subject. It was great to hear that some had travelled as far as Aberdeenshire just to be there.

We heard from historical experts, including one of the world's leading authorities on the Holocaust, Professor Yehuda Bauer, who had flown in especially from Israel. As well as increasing our historical knowledge, we heard from the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson and human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti who advised how to communicate what we had learnt.

The whole day gave Ambassadors a deeper insight of the Holocaust, building upon their prior knowledge gained from visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. It equipped them with finer tools to go out and carry out their duty - spreading the truth about the Holocaust. For me, a key element of the day was meeting and listening to Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis, who spoke to us about living in Adampol work camp in Włodawa, Poland and witnessing the murder of her mother. The large auditorium was silenced by her profound delivery and story of survival.

I was struck at this point by the fact that I am member of the last generation to have the opportunity to hear directly from Holocaust survivors. There will soon be no survivors able to travel up and down the country to give their testimony to young people. It was a real privilege to have an insight into someone's life in the way we did with Hannah - in return I believe it's our duty to really think about what we have learnt. Importantly, how will my generation help Hannah ensure that more young people learn about the Holocaust and that individual stories like hers are never forgotten?

I feel it is my responsibility, and that of my fellow Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassadors to ensure that their stories will live on, that we pass on their legacy. It is easy as young people to focus on the now, and hope for the future, but sometimes it is wise to look back once in a while. Look back, and talk to your friends and family about what others have lived through.