Listen to this, elders, and incline your ears, all inhabitants of the land; has this happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell their children, and their children the next generation.

The Book of Joel 1:1-3

We are sharing with you a report from the recent visit of a group of students from Hansa Gymnasium in Cologne to our Center, which took place between January 27th and 31st, 2024. For the ninth time, students from this school embarked on a journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau to deepen their knowledge of the tragic history of the Holocaust and to reflect on the current manifestations of racism and anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe.

Hansa Gymnasium in Cologne actively participates in the UNESCO Associated Schools Program, promoting the ideals of international cooperation among young people. It works towards building mutual understanding and maintaining peace in the world.

Our Center, located near the former Auschwitz camp, has the mission of creating a place for reflection, education, exchange of ideas, and prayer for all those moved by what happened here during the Holocaust. Our main goal is to pay tribute to the memory of the victims and to build respect, reconciliation, and peace in the global community.

During their stay, the group visited Krakow, a city inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as the site of the former ghetto established there during World War II. The students focused on delving into the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, dedicating four days to studying the fates of the victims and perpetrators of this horrific period. They also visited Oświęcim, where they explored the Jewish Center and learned about the exhibition “Memory Frames: Labyrinths” by Marian Kołodziej in Harmęże.

Meetings with former prisoners, participation in international and interreligious seminars, as well as discussions with youth of various nationalities, are an integral part of our activities. Through these events, we aim to broaden perspectives and raise awareness of the living dimension of our “responsibility after Auschwitz”.

We thank the students from Hansa Gymnasium for their participation in this journey through history. This is another experience that motivates us to fulfill our mission. As the Book of Joel reminds us, this history should speak to future generations so that we never forget what happened in the days of our ancestors.