Today’s in England and Wales the census was to be filled out. This was to be completed by all households in order to help future decisions being made being beneficial for the future community such as the organising, planning, funding for transport, education and healthcare. The last census was completed in 2011 and is completed every 10 years on the 21st of March – including this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Content Warning: this article discusses the Holocaust and Auschwitz
A year ago, I was given the opportunity to visit Auschwitz with the Holocaust Educational Trust with the aim of rehumanising the Jews and the people who helped to collaborate the act of the Holocaust – whether they were the perpetrators or bystanders. In today’s blog I will discuss the importance of remembering the Holocaust in our daily lives.
‘the holocaust was the murder of approximately six million Jewish men, women and children by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during the Second World War’
definition of the Holocaust
Before flying to Poland, we had an orientation seminar where we discussed the Jewish community and listened to a Witness testimony.
We were reminded that everyone was human, and the Jewish community were all integrated within society where they were proud to show their faith. However they were still slightly segregated in their religion throughout specific youth groups to celebrate their faith. Overall, the Jewish community was respected for their help within the First World War as well as them being across Eastern Europe.
We then listened to a witness testimony and ours was told from Hannah. At the time of the Holocaust, she was just a young girl. During this time, she never really understood what was happening until many years after where she was able to create modern links with her experiences. A memory she vividly remembers from this time was when she saw her mother die to protect her. Her family has a ‘pact’ which made sure that her grandfather was properly buried in his hometown to allow her family to keep their beliefs and values strong. Before her family left their town, they buried a box hidden with photographs which she was able to retrieve and show us. Hannah has regrets from not being able to pull her friend into the hay to save him from his death and is haunted by the vicious dogs which would threaten the villagers.
Yet whilst listening to Hannah, she was calm. Her experiences had not changed her faith in God. As she recalled her testimony, her memories flooded back in emotions which no one would be able to ever fully understand. To me it showed how surreal and recent the Holocaust still is. The Holocaust happened and if we cannot change the past, surely we can prevent it happening again within the future. However today we can still see antisemitism, for example some of the white supremacists who stormed Capitol Hill last month. The Holocaust was over 75 years ago and still people are uneducated on the history and horrors from this time.
Within the photo on the left, you can see Jewish children in a youth group making the star of David. Zagreb is in Yugoslavia and around 12,000 Jews lived here. In April 1941, Germany invaded Yugoslavia and Hitler allowed Croatia to become a separate country controlled by Croatian Fascists which passed a law to remove Jews’ rights. In June 1941, they started sending Jews to concentration camps in Croatia and most Jews were killed by the end of 1942. By May 1943, any Jews who were still left in Zagreb were handed over to the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau where the majority were killed in gas chambers when they arrived.
The town of Oswiecim:
Once we arrived in Poland, our first visit was to the town of Oswiecim. Here we looked at old photos of the town and compared them to the town today.
As shown in the black and white photograph, the town of Oswiecim had a large Jewish community of around 58% in 1939. The market square was very important for trade and business. After the outbreak of the war in September 1939, occupying forces burnt down the Great Synagogue in the town to show their authority which as a result removed all Jews from this town. It was soon renamed Auschwitz and was the closest town to the building of the Auschwitz concentration camps. The large church by the water remains however the synagogue which proudly stood next to it was burnt down. This shows how before the town of Oswiecim was well integrated, everyone was respected and proud of their identities. Today there are no Jews in this town.
We then visited Auschwitz I and were giving a tour guide from one of the local workers. Before my visit I was expecting it to be solemn, reserved, quiet, monumental, historic and thought provoking. During my visit, I found it to be some of these characteristics. It was historical and monumental however it was bright with green grass, yet the buildings were plain and simple. In a way, the buildings were reserved, solemnly quiet – as if reflecting on their purpose within the Holocaust. It was neither silent nor loud instead more peaceful as we all took in the true history reminding ourselves that the Holocaust unfortunately was very real. It was so recent for such inhumane evil activity with the brain washing included. In a way I learnt how it was unintentional the mass murder, with the gas being used to prevent the outspread for diseases yet this is a worrying thought.
In the top right photo you can see the ‘gate’ reading Albeit Macht Frei. This translates to work sets you free.
‘They beat us between the cars and the gate. They gave us such a hard time. There was a young boy standing next to me, maybe he was sixteen, fifteen even, and he was crying, tears were falling. We were afraid, we didn’t know where we were. It seemed to me that we found ourselves in hell. You cannot describe it any other way. And it turned out that this was hell.’
This is an extract from Jerzy Bielecki whom was on the very first transport to Auschwitz of 728 Polish political prisoners at Tarnow on the 14th June 1940. Its tales Jerzy describing his arrival at Auschwitz prior to the construction of the current entrance building.
Excluding the top right photo, all the photos show the belongings the Jews and others brought with them to the concentration camps. As soon as they arrived, they would’ve been stripped of all their belongings and their identities. Their hair would be shaved to be sold to factories in order to be used for wool – though much was never sold and sent to factories. The suitcases are all named with returning addresses and many prosthetic limbs from those who were disabled or needed them after them helping in the wars. There were many pots and pans as well as glasses frames, keys, shoe brushes and prayer mats. However, what surprised me most was the shoes. There were many different styles, shapes, sizes and colours, making you question what pair of shoes would you have worn and how a single pair of shoes can define and individualise every person who arrived there. Also, those who brought keys with them, would they have known it would be the last time they locked their home?
The top right photo shows empty canisters of the gas used within the gas chambers. These hadn’t been destroyed and the gas was originally used to try and kill those who had diseases and were ill. However someone soon told the ‘hierarchy’ who gave the order to be used within the gas chambers. No one knows who or why.
The top left photo shows the gas chamber at Auschwitz I. This was around 10-15m away from the camp owners house who lived with his family where their children played in the garden, they would be able to see all which was happening. This goes against the whole idea at Auschwitz – to dehumanise the Jews whilst the children were enjoying their lives. The bottom left photo shows the striped pyjamas the ‘prisoners’ would wear.
The middle photos show a book of names, of all those who died or suffered during the holocaust. The book is incomplete and merely shows a proportion of those who suffered as a result of the Nazis actions. Block 10 was used for experiments and block 11 was used as a prison where there was a mass shooting between both these blocks. Near these blocks lived the ‘bird watcher’ who would go around spotting birds at Auschwitz and would be paid for his findings. After the Holocaust ended, he was rewarded with a job as I believe to be a professor. Was he a bystander or a perpetrator?
Auschwitz II – Birkenau:
Auschwitz II – Birkenau was known to be the end. This was where the train track stopped and ended but in reality, this was the end of everything leading up to arriving here to face your death.
The top left photo shows a train, cart which would’ve arrived full of passengers to Auschwitz Birkenau. There were no windows and seemed like a cargo for livestock and goods. There would be a single bucket for a toilet on what might be a 9-day journey from Corfu. The drivers of these were they a perpetrator? Many bought a home return ticket as well expecting to return home.
Once you got off and had arrived you were greeted with a guard. A thumb left meant you would face death up at the gas chambers and a thumb right meant you’d be able to work. Many lied about their age and claimed skills in order to survive.
The photo on the right shows one of the two gas chambers. In the moment leading up to the defeat of the Nazis within the Second World War, they tried to destroy all evidence by collapsing the gas chambers and burning the wooden barracks in the area they called ‘Canada’ which held the belongings of the Jewish community to be searched through and sold on.
The middle photo shows the turning of the thumb left and right. The bottom right photo shows items in ‘Canada’ being sorted through by the prisoners as work. The bottom left photo shows the brick huts where many would’ve been squashed in to sleep and live. They were triple bunks and there was also holes as a toilets, more than 700 people would be living in here. One worker who worked in the toilets felt as if their job was royalty. They would be able to talk to the others in the toilets as no SS guards would come in from fear of typhus and catching any diseases. The worker was able to hear stories and find out about the camps gossip.
The top left photo shows the site of where a wooden barrack once would’ve situated and within this barrack would’ve held more than 200 Jewish children between the ages of 2 to 16 being kept as prisoners. Many of them were twins who were being used for criminal medical experiments.
The top left photo shows the section of Auschwitz Birkenau which was called ‘Canada’. Lots of workers would want to work in ‘Canada’ to sort through clothes and items. The Nazis burnt down this section of the camp and so only the bottom bricks remain of what once were wooden barracks. If you were a worker, first your belongs would be stripped and men and women would be separated. Then you would burn or steam your clothes before having a shower to clean yourself. Everyone would gather into the same room (of each gender) before boiling hot or freezing cold water was tipped down. Your hair would then be shaved before getting your tattoo and then getting your clothing to wear (the striped pyjamas). The photo on the left shows more photos of items and belongings people brought with them.
Some may say the Jews were free and the guards were the prisoners ‘locked’ up being held captive. This is shown by the Jewish community using the moon as guidance to remind them of their heritage through their festivals. Even through the Nazis dehumanising the Jews, they were still able to fight back and hold onto the remnants of their self belief.
After my visit I reflected on what I’ve learnt about human beings. I’ve reinforced the idea that everyone is equal no matter your beliefs however at Auschwitz, everyone was dehumanised and torn away from their own views for being so called ‘wrong’ yet they stood stronger together and became more resilient despite their lives completely being torn apart.
The key points I would like to share and hence take away from my experience is the harsh reality of the ‘production line’ at Auschwitz Birkenau, including the items each family brought with them to continue their ‘new life’ at the camps which were rapidly stripped from them. Another concept I would like to reinforce is where can we draw the line between a perpetrator and a bystander – in a way both their actions, however big or small, consequently it all added up and made the holocaust happen.
Nazi Germany tried to kill all the Jews through dehumanisation in the following ways; Concentration camps, Gas chambers, Murder camps (Auschwitz Birkenau), Shooting, Starvation, Beating/Strangling and Mass murder -when they realised that they were not sufficient in their methods.
The words perpetrator and bystander now mean two new things. A ‘perpetrator’ I see is someone involved within the act of the Holocaust. They were the Nazis, the guards, the bird watcher, the farmers who provided food to the camps, the photographer and the train drivers. Yet more importantly as such this act never would’ve been carried out if the ‘bystanders’ who knew what was happening but did not act against it would’ve done something. They include country leaders and governments, families of Nazi believers, the local community who watched their Jewish community be removed from their towns and villages. However, both terms link as the hierarchy cannot run without the bystanders.
On the 15th of January, Why Don’t We released their new album called ‘The Good Times and The Bad Ones’. Here is my review of each song on their album.
1) Fallin’ – 7/10. This song would receive a higher ranking except I have been listening to it since it’s release in September non stop. It is an upbeat song with live percussion.
2) Slow Down – 10/10. I could listen to this song on repeat all day long. It is really addicting and the tune is inspired by samples from The Smashing Pumpkins January 1996 track ‘1979’ where in the music video, Why Don’t We have included Easter eggs.
3) Lotus Inn – 8/10. The whole concept of this song is about turning back time to ‘do it all over again’ due to them staying at the Lotus Inn. The Lotus Inn reminds me of the Lotus Hotel and Casino in the Percy Jackson series. Why Don’t We teased this song by creating a website for their song as promo.
4) Be Myself – 10000/10. This song speaks for itself by just listening to the lyrics. It discusses anxiety and the feelings you may get. I find this song really beautiful to listen to as mental health is important to speak about. Whilst I am now in a 3rd national lockdown, it is important to remember to speak out about our feelings and we are never alone.
5) Love Song – 9/10. Every good album needs a love song and this one fits perfectly with the whole albums aesthetic. It is very upbeat and the chorus is really simple but effective as a whole.
6) Grey – 8/10. When I say this song is simple but beautiful, it really is. I love how thought out the melody is with the lyrics. It fits perfectly together and is completely different to the other songs on their album. I can imagine a really nice, solemn lyrical dance being choreographed to this song.
7) For you – 7/10. It is another amazing song on the album with lots of layers throughout. The pre-chorus really reminds me of one song though I cannot pinpoint which song yet.
8) I’ll be okay – 11/10. Imagine the movie credits rolling and this song will fit perfectly. Within the song, the lyrics mostly represent the albums name. I have given this song a bonus point for the line “But once you light a fire, it’s gonna burn” as it reminds me of Scout camps.
9) Look at me – 6/10. The lyrics are not my cup of tea but the tune is really cool and gives off groovy vibes.
10) Stay – 8/10. It is a lovely song to finish the whole album together and wraps up the whole albums vibes perfectly.
Over the past few months there has been a game which has rapidly risen called Among Us. Compared to the release of the family friendly, calming Animal Crossing New Horizons game early this year, Among Us is the complete opposite relying on betrayal and sacrifice to win. Recently, I have been playing Among Us in some of my study periods doing a ‘live’ meeting whenever the button was called or a dead body reported yet first I will briefly explain the game.
What is the difference between a crewmate and an imposter?
A crewmate completes tasks and tries to figure out who the imposter is by gathering information like a detective. Crewmates can win if they vote out the imposter or complete all of their tasks. If someone spots a dead body (as the imposter has killed), they are able to report the body and discuss any suspicious activity they have seen during meetings where at the end of the meeting they can vote someone off or skip there vote. The crewmates work together in a team to find the imposter among them.
An imposters task is to fake tasks and avoid suspicion whilst trying to kill the other crewmates and sabotage different areas. The imposters are able to ‘vent’ around the map in order to move quickly around and are able to report dead bodies – this is called a self report. Mostly an imposter has to avoid suspicion to avoid being voted out and they win the game when there is only one crewmate left alive.
If anyone dies or is voted off, they become ghosts. Crewmate ghosts can finish their tasks whilst Imposter ghosts can still sabotage.
What are the three maps you can play on?
Looks like a spaceship which is one giant loop
5 visual tasks (which can be turned off)
Security system allows for 4 corridors to be viewed at the same time
contains 5 vents systems
reactor, electrical, communications and O2 can all be sabotaged by the imposters
imposters can also sabotage doors which have an automatic reopening countdown
Looks like an office building with a triangular design
1 visual task
Security system is a ‘doorlog’ which allows three sensors to pick up the movement of the players
contains 11 vents which are all connected via one system
reactor, O2 an electrical can all be sabotaged by the imposters
imposters cannot sabotage doors
Looks like a snowy planet and has quite a large layout
2 visual tasks
Security system allows for six areas to be viewed individually
reactor, O2 and electrical can all be sabotaged by the imposter
imposters can sabotage doors which can be reopened using switches
contains vitals which allows you to see who is alive or dead
What is 84’s favourite map?
I am a big fan of the SKELD but it may be due to this map being the simplest to follow and play in online lobbies. However, the other maps are more fun to play ‘live’ talking to your friends during meetings as you are able to explain where you are and our story a lot more clearer compared to typing it during the meetings box.
If you have not played Among Us, I highly recommend playing it during the Christmas season as a virtual game. My overall rating is 9/10.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately, I’ve taken to hiding in 84s room to avoid getting this nasty virus which is about. I don’t want to be remembered as the first bear to catch it.
This evening I came out of my hiding place to undertake a very important role – Mum84 needed an adjudicator for the Rainbows Cuddly Toy Show so I ventured out.
I was introduced to the Rainbows, there were lots of new faces this time. Each Rainbow took a turn to introduce their cuddly toy and tell us a little bit about it. The contest for the biggest was a closely fought race with entries from P with Sparkles the Unicorn and M with Peggy the Pegasus. I needed a bit of help from the Rainbows to decide and Peggy the Pegasus was declared the winner of the biggest cuddly toy.
Another close category was the cuddliest cuddly toy, entries from O with Bunny, I with Lion and P with Sparkles, being on zoom this was very hard to judge as I couldn’t personally snuggle up with them and had to rely on how much they were being cuddled by their owner, but I eventually decided on Bunny who has been cuddled by her owner since birth.
Other entries included Sequin, Penguin and Lily who won the sparkliest, smallest and prettiest eyes categories.
Each entrant will be awarded a certificate and a rosette.
Mum84 says that some of the parents came up with a few alternative categories – most chewed, most washed, most bald spots and the one where Mummy hasn’t sewn the arm back on yet!
Maybe it’s not just me who needs to get out more … Lockdown is getting to us all.
Throughout this week, many brands have been releasing their Christmas adverts. Usually I would consider the Christmas season to start as soon as the infamous John Lewis Christmas Advert is released which gets better each year. This year however, I was not a big fan of the John Lewis Christmas advert yet, I thought it was very clever how it was made. Below is a list of my favourite Christmas adverts from this year with a mini review. So, in no particular order:
Delivering a letter to Santa should be fairly easy however, for the Dad staring in this advert he has to go on a very long journey to deliver the letter as he missed the post. It was very adventurous and enjoyable to watch.
This was very joyful and all about sausage rolls featuring LADBABY who have produced the last two Christmas chart no. 1 with ‘we built this city’ and ‘I love sausage rolls’. LADBABY were featured singing Christmas carols about sausage rolls to promote Walker’s festive sausage roll flavoured crisps.
I felt very heart warmed watching this as it showed family around Christmas whilst sharing the message of love, family and festivity (plus Christmas traditions such as who makes the best dish within the Christmas Dinners – I make good stuffing balls).
In conclusion, it is now the start of Christmas! I can rock to Christmas music and start to put festive decorations up around the house. I have already started watching Christmas movies and shows to get into the festive spirit!
If you have any other good Christmas adverts or Christmas movies and shows I should review, let me know in the comments below.
It’s that time of the year again when we “remember remember the 5th of November. Gun powder, treason and plot.”. This year Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire night is being celebrated in the UK very differently (especially as England has gone back into a national lock down for 4 weeks).
So for any non British citizens, you may be wondering what Bonfire night is all about and it all starts with the Gun Powder Plot.
On the 5th of November 1605, the Gun Powder conspirators had planned to blow up parliament on the day of state opening where the King would be in attendance. There plan was to kill all members of parliament and the King in order to re-establish Catholic rule in England. The conspirators were betrayed and hence caught the night before there plan. Guy Fawkes was found in a cellar where the explosives were being stored. Eventually all conspirators were caught and either were killed or captured and trialled. Parliament announced that on November the 5th from 1606, a national day of thanksgiving should be held.
Usually we would celebrate Bonfire night by watching a firework display or attending a Bonfire. Some people will create a straw “Guy” which will be placed on the bonfire in the evening. Throughout the day, they will take the “Guy” around asking passerby’s for “a penny for the Guy”.
My Bonfire night tradition is that we usually eat burgers and/or sausages with chips. Supposedly, guards working at the houses of parliament hosts a search on the 5th of November to check for explosives and potential arsonists.
Do you have any Bonfire night traditions or any similar events let me know in the comments!
October is Black History month so to celebrate I put up a display in my schools Mathematics Corridor. Here are seven important mathematicians and scientists who have defied
Katherine Johnson was a famous mathematician who earnt a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and French.
In 1953, she was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ and worked analysing data from flight tests.
In 1962, Johnson was asked by John Glenn to rerun the numbers and equations which were calculated by the computer because he wanted to check the programme was correct. His space flight was then successful.
In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. This is the highest civilian honour any American can be awarded.
Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr.
Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr. attended the University of Chicago at the age of 13 (in 1936) and was one of the youngest students to attend. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at 17 and earnt his PhD at 19.
Wilkins worked with Arthur Compton and Enrico Fermi to research methods into producing fissionable nuclear materials focusing on plutonium-239. Unfortunately, he did not fully know the purpose of his research until the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima.
In 1944, he worked on research with Eugene Wingner on neutron absorption which lead to the discovery of the Wigner-Wilkins approach to estimate the distribution of neutron energies within nuclear reactors.
He helped on the Manhattan project with a strong interest in the peaceful application of atomic energy.
In 1976, he became the president of the American Nuclear Society and later was the second African American to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which is one of the highest honours an engineer can receive.
Dorothy Vanughan was a mathematician who in 1943 worked at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory and was assigned to the segregated ‘West Area Computing Unit’. The West Computers contributed to most areas of research at Langley.
In 1949, Dorothy was promoted to become NACA’s first black supervisor and was one of the few female supervisors.
Later in 1958 when NACA transitioned to NASA she joined the Analysis and Computation Division which was one of the first integrated groups at NASA. She became an expert of the FORTRAN programme and contributed to the Scot Launch Vehicle Program.
In 1971, she retired from NASA.
Benjamin Banneker owned a farm near Baltimore, USA and was largely self-educated in Astronomy and Mathematics.
He constructed a wooden clock which kept accurate time for more than 50 years and Banneker was able to accurately predict lunar and solar eclipses.
In 1791, Andrew Ellicott hire Banneker to help assist in surveying territory for the nation’s capital and worked in the observatory tent using a zenith sector to record movements of stars.
Between 1792-97, he published many Almanacs (annual calendars) which included astronomical calculations, opinion pieces, literature, medical and tidal information.
Benjamin wrote letters to Thomas Jefferson outlying his hypocrisy to enslave African Americans whilst they were fighting the British for independence. He also attached his Almanac to the letter.
Jefferson acknowledged his letter and, in his response, stated how he had sent Banneker’s Almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet.
Banneker gained widespread support of abolitionist societies in Maryland and Pennsylvania for his views against slavery.
Katherine Adebola Okikiolu
Kate Okikiolu developed an interest for Mathematics in high school and in 1985 attended Newham College at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Mathematics.
From here, she then studied in the United States to research for her doctorate and became an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and in 1974 she became a full-time professor.
In 1991 she gained her PhD for her thesis on The Analogue of the Strong Szego Limit Theorem on the Torus and the 3-Sphere.
From 1992-95 she worked as an assistant professor at Princeton University and produced two papers whilst here.
She became an assistant visiting professor at MIT from 1995 to 1997 and produced three joint papers with Victor Guillemin.
She joined the University of California at San Diego in 1997 as an associated professor where, during this time, she was awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Throughout her time here she delivered many lectures and talks including three talks at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2011 she joined the Mathematics department at Johns Hopkins University, USA.
David Blackwell was an American mathematician and statistician whom in 1935, age 16, attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a Bachelors degree, then a Masters and finally earnt a Doctorate.
Later, Blackwell took a position at Howard University which he described as being the “ambition of every black scholar” and after 3 years he became a full professor and became the Head of the Department of Mathematics.
In 1954, he left to take a position as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and in 1956 he became a chairman of the Statistics Department.
In 1965, he was elected to the National Academy of Science.
In 1979, he received the John von Neumann Theory Prize for his work on dynamic programming.
In 1986, Blackwell also earnt the R.A Fisher Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies.
Mamokgethi Phakeng achieved a Bachelors degree in Pure Mathematics at the University of North-West, South Africa and a master degree in Mathematics Education at the University of Witwatersrand where in 2002 she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education.
Phakeng became the first female president of the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa during 2002-2006. In 2007 she was elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and in 2009 she became an honourary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
From 2011 to 2016 she became the first female president of the Convocation of the University of Wiwatersrand.
In 2014, the CEO Magazine named her Africa’s most influential female academic.
In 2016, the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa awarded her the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award in the education category.
On top of this, Mamokgethi has gained many awards such as the Doctor of Science from the University of Bristol and held the Mellon Award from 1998 to 2000.