The non-profit organisation Témoins de la 2e génération asbl was founded in 1999, two years after Mr. Charles Goerens, Member of the European Parliament, organised the first, of what would be many, visit to the concentration and extermination camps Auschwitz I+II (Auschwitz-Birkenau). On that first trip over 100 students and their teachers from various secondary schools in Luxembourg joined Mr. Goerens..
Since then the journey takes place every year. What makes these trips so significant and valuable is that, on top of the students being able to learn from excellent guides, a small group of Holocaust survivors also accompanies the students. These former victims of Nazi crimes offer the students a rare glimpse into history. The survivors relate and discuss their personal experiences with the students, and these discussions are a tremendously powerful learning experience for all involved.
Unfortunately, the Holocaust survivors will face increasing travel difficulties in the coming years. Hence alternative solutions must be found in order to guarantee the continuation of this unique educational experience. Therefore, efforts are being made by the teaching services of the organisation to develop new concepts for the future.
These educational journeys are organised by the board members of Témoins de la 2e génération with various schools throughout Luxembourg. Each trip has a well-defined learning focus, and the general programme is, briefly, as follows:
In the first morning students visit the Stammlager Auschwitz I. Then, for the second morning they visit Birkenau, also known as the “world’s biggest cemetery”, just a few kilometres further away. In addition to that, students have the opportunity to interact with our ‘eyewitnesses’, the Holocaust survivors, by raising and discussing questions with them. On the final day before returning to Luxembourg, the students also have the chance to visit the city of Kraków, and in particular, the old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, one of the most important centres of Jewish life and culture in the pre-war era.
Pedagogical assistance also comes from the IJBS (Internationale Jugendbegegnungsstätte) and the State Museum of Auschwitz.
The participating students are aged 17-18, but students from Luxembourg University are also invited to join the group. Approximately 120 students and teachers from between 10-12 Luxembourgish schools visit the sites in southern Poland at the end of October and beginning of November each year.
Most teachers, however, do not consider the end of the trip the end of the topic, but continue to work on Holocaust remembrance in their respective schools by elaborating various related projects.
These annual visits, which are important to the solemn commemoration of the Holocaust and its survivors, would not have been possible if not for the charitable contributions of sponsors, amongst which a range of well-known foundations, such as the Fondation