Lighting Candles in the Darkness: An Exploration of Commemorative Acts with British Teenagers at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

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Every year around 3000 British school pupils and teachers visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum as participants on a Lessons from Auschwitz Project organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust. Each visit ends with a memorial ceremony held at the end of the railway tracks at Birkenau. This article analyses interview and survey data from participating students and educators to explore their experiences of these ceremonies. The research findings indicate that the context and content of the ceremony are significant for both groups, with a general consensus that the ceremony is an important and appropriate way to end the day visit to Poland and the museum. The students’ responses also particularly raise issues around their emotional engagement with the ceremony and the impact it had on them in this way. In conclusion, this article suggests how similar reflective spaces might be created in other educational contexts at similar sites of memory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Collective worship
  • Commemoration
  • Holocaust education
  • Lessons from Auschwitz
  • Remembrance

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