A Trip Through History | Students visit Auschwitz exhibit in Kansas City

Mayah Mumpower | news editor

Last week, sophomores and juniors traveled to the Auschwitz Exhibit currently on display at Union Station in Kansas City.

The exhibit, “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.,” features a combination of original objects and photographs from institutions and museums around the world. Typically only on display in Europe, it will be in Kansas City until March 20.

This rare experience was an opportunity to help the students learn more about the Holocaust and the social injustices that occurred.

Sophomore Weston Johnson and juniors Danielle Murphy and Jorge Carmona observe the clothes worn by prisoners of Auschwitz while listening to an audio guide.

English teacher Miriam Barton helped organize the trip. “We do a big social justice unit every spring semester and a great way to start it is by learning about why we need to fight for social justice because there are awful things that have happened in society that we can’t let happen again,” Barton said.

History teacher Jess Rutledge said the trip also ties into his curriculum. “This was a horrific event that happened and as difficult as it may be to learn about these types of things, it is important for us to understand that these things happen to make sure that as we move forward in future generations we never allow something like this to happen again,” Rutledge said.

As the students walked through, they were able to see how many different groups were discriminated against and how concentration camps, like Auschwitz, were run. Videos of survivors sharing their experiences as well as letters written from the camps were displayed.

“It’s a benefit because you hear firsthand accounts and you get to see actual firsthand items that were taken from those murdered or the camp itself, which makes the experience much more real, much more personal,” Rutledge said.

Sophomore Jacob Havenstein looks at a sock tucked into a shoe that was worn by one of the children who died in Auschwitz.

Several students said the exhibit was effective. “The exhibit was really heart wrenching in my opinion. The way it went into detail and had quotes from many survivors just broke my heart in a way, especially at how some kids got told they would never see their family again,” junior Danielle Murphy said.

Many personal belongings were shown and accompanied by a brief quote or story about the person who wore or owned the item.

“Some things that stood out to me were some of the clothes displayed still had blood on them.  The chunk of people’s possessions melted together was sad to think about because it was all stolen and people never got stuff back,” junior Collin Clark said.

Sophomore Dakota Pollock and junior Nathan Anderson observe items recovered from Auschwitz.

Student responses to the field trip:

“It was pretty eye-opening for me. I learned quite a bit about the Holocaust that I didn’t know before. It became pretty sad when you learned about some people’s stories and what they went through.”

— junior Eli Oliver

“I was definitely worth taking a visit because it showed how drastically it affected the Jewish people and what it did to families and the guilt from those who survived.”

— junior Ryan Schutter

“I really enjoyed going. There were many things that stood out to me and that I had learned from going. It helped to put a visual on all of the things that had happened in that camp, even though we had heard about it in stories and stuff, seeing some of those things in real life puts a really big visual on everything.”

— junior Rebekah Stuhlsatz

“I thought the the museum was very sad. The thing that really hit me hard was the kids shoe with still the sock in it of a child that was murdered. Thinking that they would just murder innocent children is sickening.”

— junior Logan Clark

“I thought the exhibit was really sad. I learned you shouldn’t treat people like they’re less superior than you. I think the uniforms stood out to me the most.”

— junior Hadlee Diepenbrock

“I did not go with the class but I went back in November. I liked the exhibit. It was well thought out and items were placed in specific parts of the tour to tell the story of the Holocaust. Seeing possessions of people who died in the camps was very powerful and overall was a great experience.”

— junior Olivia Mayer

“The exhibit was really heart wrenching in my opinion. The way it went into detail and had quotes from many survivors just broke my heart in a way, especially at how some kids got told they would never see their family again. It just tells you to make sure you don’t take anything for granted.”

— junior Danielle Murphy

“It was the second time I’ve been there but I think it’s pretty cool. It shows what the Jews went through. The excerpts from the documentaries show what they went through. I recommend you go in the next couple months if you can.”

— junior Lanson Parry

“The exhibit was very interesting, I liked the audio that narrated the museum because it was unique. The exhibit really touched deep down into parents feels by showing little kid apparel and it makes you want to prevent something like this in the future to ever happen again. It taught me to never vote for a maniac with a small mustache.”

— junior Bryton Reves

“I thought that the exhibit was really cool even though I almost cried about 5 times. Lessons that I learned from it was never take anything for granted and that we live a glorious life right now even through a pandemic. I also thought that we are so comfortable with where we are now in our lives that we don’t think that this could happen to us but it could and we wouldn’t see it coming just like all the people who were and died in Auschwitz.”

Kwinton Willier

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