What could other pupils learn from the conversations between the pupils of Menen college and the last survivors of the camps?
Let it for once be more than learning about the horror of the camps, the consequences of an undemocratic society, the resistance and imprisonment of the victims, their fate thereafter. Many books and projects have been made to that purpose. Today experts warn for possible reverse effects. So let it for once also be learning from.
Of course still learning about too, let there be no misunderstanding. Because of respect for the life story of the survivors, the memory of those fallen, the value of the lesson in concrete history – in this case of a terrible period. And because of the modesty about the present that follows from this.
But also learning from, learning beyond the facts of history. To that end we cannot limit ourselves to try and identify with the victims. We have to teach pupils that they, and we, can be potential killers too. Learning from ‘Auschwitz’ therefore demands integration of insight into the causes en circumstances that led to what happened then. So that today we could see where and when it threatens to happen again. So that today we shall not look away form the horrors around us.
Never Again can help teach us this. Because the book does not only speak of then but also of the present day. Recall the words of Lydia Shagoll: ‘… in so many countries, in all those Russian territories: Georgia, Chechnya, Armenia. But why do others not testify? Because the victims are not whites? Or read the words of Johan De Meue again: ‘I abhor when I see extreme-right become successful again. I see many resemblances between the 30s and today. I see this, and it frightens me.’