SELKIRK teenagers Michael Tunnicliffe and Michael Dogan are staging an evening about the concentration camp Auschwitz to raise money for charity.
The two 17-year-old Selkirk High School pupils were selected to go to the former death camp in Poland with the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz programme in September.
Now the sixth-year students want to talk about what they saw and raise money for the trust and Darfur, to help those affected by civil war in Sudan.
Deputy head boy Michael Tunnicliffe said: “I was expecting it to be really emotional and for it to be quite eerie.
“There were 200 of us and we were split into groups of 20.
“A lot of people were upset by it. I was upset, but I wasn’t crying. It’s quite hard to take in, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.”
Michael Dogan said: “It’s hard to know how to respond.”
But, overall, he said, it was “a good, positive experience”.
The pair met Auschwitz survivor Ziggy Shipper who had been in the infamous camp from age nine to 14.
Michael Tunnicliffe said: “Ziggy is a really positive and funny, jokey man which I didn’t expect. He said: ‘Never hate because hate ruins your life’.”
And Michael Dogan added: “He doesn’t look back or hate anyone who did what they did to him and he said ‘never give up’ and ‘try and make the most of your life’.”
They saw the gate into the first camp (now a museum) with “Work will give you freedom” written above it in German. They described seeing a room full of hair, another of female hair, another with pans, baby shoes and other items that Jewish families had brought with them.
The watch tower is in camp two.
“We were so privileged to go up into the watch tower. You couldn’t see the other end of the camp from there,” said Michael Tunnicliffe.
“Our tour guide, Rabbi Marcus, told us emotional and true stories of victims of the Holocaust, as well as giving us the thorough tour of both sites,” he added.
The pair wanted to go to learn, and were grateful for the chance.
Michael Tunnicliffe explained: “It’s something I probably would never get the chance to do. I’d never been on a plane before and I was going to Poland and seeing something that had such a significant impact on history, and learning that there is the potential for evil in everyone.”
His schoolmate agreed: “It’s something I would never have considered doing on my own, but when the chance came up, it seemed like a good opportunity.”
Both will talk at the Wednesday evening event on December 14 at the high school when they hope to raise £250. During the first half they will talk about Ziggy’s experiences and Auschwitz One before an interval for refreshments. Then the pair go on to speak about the second camp and Lessons from Auschwitz. People will be asked for donations as they leave.
Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.