British Queen celebrates


Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, recently shared her poignant experience visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp, describing it as "deeply moving and troubling."

Keegan participated in this visit alongside hundreds of post-16 students from schools across the West Midlands, as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s (HET) Lessons from Auschwitz Project.

Speaking to Jewish media organizations upon her return to the UK, Keegan emphasized the profound impact of witnessing the site firsthand. She expressed shock at the realization that Auschwitz was purpose-built for the destruction of millions of people, describing the experience as incomprehensible yet deeply moving.

Keegan's commitment to visiting Auschwitz was pledged during her speech at last September's HET fundraiser dinner in London. Reflecting on the trip in the wake of recent atrocities in Israel, Keegan highlighted its poignancy amidst rising levels of hatred and antisemitism globally.

Addressing ongoing concerns about Holocaust education and the inappropriate comparison between Gaza and the Holocaust, Keegan stressed the importance of firsthand experiences like visiting Auschwitz to grasp the stark reality of historical atrocities.

Comparing her visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with a prior visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Keegan noted the contrasting experiences, describing the former as a slower, deeply distressing encounter.

Regarding the government's investment in antisemitism awareness training for schools, Keegan clarified that the pause in funding was solely to ensure proper procurement processes. She affirmed the government's commitment to effectively combatting antisemitism and enhancing education on these critical issues.

Keegan also addressed concerns about free speech legislation in higher education, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between free expression and preventing harassment and hate speech.

Karen Pollock, CBE, Chief Executive of HET, commended Keegan for her visit, emphasizing its significance in ensuring future generations remember the Holocaust and stand against antisemitism and hate. She expressed gratitude for the Department for Education's ongoing support, which has enabled thousands of young people across the UK to engage with Holocaust education and become ambassadors against hate.

Keegan's reflections underscore the profound impact of firsthand experiences like visiting Auschwitz and the ongoing importance of Holocaust education in fostering understanding and combating prejudice. Photo by Piotr Drabik from Poland, Wikimedia commons.