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Park High School

Park High School

Netherlands Trip January 2013

Read this Year 10 student’s moving account of the trip

During our trip to the Netherlands we experienced many unforgettable moments, three that moved me in particular. We visited the Anne Frank House early Saturday morning. What struck me most when walking around was how ordinary Anne was. She was a normal girl, similar to teenagers nowadays. Her room was decorated with pictures, her own drawings and things cut out of magazines. She had an older sister, they argued like any other sisters. Anne thought about what her life would be like when she grew up, she was very ambitious and confident in herself. What made Anne different was the diary she kept documenting her life: a life cut short by the Holocaust. Anne had no idea that her words would touch the hearts of millions decades after her death. She had no idea how much she had already achieved.

The Schouwberg Theatre became a deportation centre for Jews under the Nazis. I was surprised when we visited it because it looked nothing like a theatre that we would see nowadays, of course not a lot of the original building remained. There were signs everywhere of the people who had come to the Schouwberg destined for death. The surname of all of them was on a wall next to an eternal flame commemorating them. A lot of them didn't believe that they were going to die: they were told to bring a can-opener with them which suggested that they would be eating canned food. There was also a memorial in the form of an uncompleted pillar, a common sight in the Netherlands representing lives uncompleted.

On our last day in the Netherlands we went to the Amersfoort Concentration Camp. During the years of 1941 to 1945, over 35,000 prisoners were kept there. Being there was very upsetting. I was amazed at the passion of the people who worked there. They were volunteers but it was very clear (through their extensive knowledge and expression as they spoke) that they love their work and appreciated people from all over the world being as fascinated as they were. I'll never forget the woman who showed us around. She tells people the same information every day but she was still visibly moved as she shared it with us.

Our trip to The Netherlands coincided with the Holocaust Memorial Day 2013. We celebrated the day in school with an assembly, we were joined by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. He is retiring in September and we were honoured to be the last school he will share the day with as Chief Rabbi. We were also joined by Gena Turgel, an inspirational women who survived the Holocaust and continues to share her story (we would be more than happy to have her visit again and talk to us in more detail). Their words were moving, to say the least. It was a privilege to hear them speak about a subject so close to their hearts. The trip and the assembly gave all involved a lot to think about. My own view is that whilst we should be thankful for the fact that we haven't experienced anything like the Holocaust, we mustn't assume that future generations never will. Prejudice and discrimination still exists and probably always will but we can help by minimising its effects within our own community. It's said often: we shouldn't judge on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and yet we still do. We can't help having opinions on people we haven't met, what we can help is people feeling as though they need to change aspects of themselves that they simply can't. The men, women and children who lost their lives during the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and as long as we learn to treat one another equally, their deaths will not have been in vain. Their fighting spirit will live on in all who remember them.

Niamh Boyle, Year 10 student

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Headteacher Mr Emlyn Lumley

Phone 0208 952 2803

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