Crime students get emotional experience of wartime atrocity with Polish visit


Students on a criminology course have been given a first-hand look at state crime with an unforgettable trip to Poland.

The East European country's turbulent history under successive regimes illuminated many of the themes the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are learning to understand on Criminology and Criminal Justice courses.

Over the course of five days, students took in a historic tour of Kraków, before visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and Oskar Schindler's wartime enamel factory.

Group Shot Poland

The visit's aim was to bring to life the concept of state crime - criminal acts committed against a nation, such as those perpetrated by the Nazis in the Second World War.

By seeing first-hand the legacy of Polish life under both the Nazis and the Communists and the resurgence of Polish culture in subsequent years, the students saw academic concepts made real, emotional and relatable.

Criminology student Yazmin Gilbert said the trip was one of the "most amazing experiences" of her life.

She said: "Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau really made me think about the atrocities that happened during that time, at them places, for so many people. To be there on Remembrance Day really was heartbreaking, and the compassion I felt for all those who suffered was immense.

"I learnt that so many people are scared of what's different when in fact they should celebrate it. Kraków is a wonderful place with so much culture, and getting to see that and experience it for myself is something I won't soon forget.

"You can read about history, but visiting a place with so much history, like Kraków is something very special and it made me understand more about my course than I thought it would. I'm so grateful for the experience."

Thomas Marshall, 20, on the Criminology and Criminal Justice course, said the trip helped him understand the impact genocide has on humanity and 21-year-old Charlotte Walters, on the same course, said the trip was one she would "never forget".

Students on both the Criminology and Criminal Justice BA and the Criminology and Criminal Justice with Psychology BA courses were invited on the trip.

Salt mines

The opportunity was offered under the innovative #DMUglobal initiative - DMU's flagship international experience project, which aims to offer all DMU students the opportunity for an international experience while they study.

Through #DMUglobal, the university offers a wide range of opportunities including on-campus and UK activities, overseas study, internships, faculty-led field trips and volunteering, as well as Erasmus+ and international exchanges. More than 11,000 students are set to take part in the programme by 2020.

Kim Sadique, Senior Lecturer in Community and Criminal Justice at DMU, was one of two trip leads.

She said: "Polish history is really all about partition and reunification; there is such to and fro with the Polish identity, yet now Polish society is widely multi-cultural and multi-faith. It is an inspiring story for the students to experience.

"The trip was such a success we are planning another trip in March, and hope to make it a twice-annual opportunity for students."

Posted on Friday 11th December 2015

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