“YOU are here today because we need you to bear witness, to tell the world of what happened here.” - Those were the words of Rabbi Andrew Shaw as we sat on the great stone memorial to the victims of Auschwitz.

I was invited by the Holocaust Educational Trust to be part of a visit to the site by students from schools and colleges across the Midlands, and what I saw I will never forget.

After arriving at Krakow Airport we were driven to the town of Oswiecim, better known by its German translation of Auschwitz.

Before the war the town was a diverse and cosmopolitan trading centre, with 58 per cent of the population being Jewish.

After a brief visit to the town, where we were shown the market square and the site of the former Great Synagogue, we were back on the bus to our next destination, Auschwitz 1, the original part of the camp that was originally an army barracks. What I found unnerving was that the camp is only a three minute drive from the town, in plain sight.

I had had a pre-conceived idea in my head that Auschwitz must be in the middle of nowhere, hidden from view, where no one could know what was going on, but there it is, just a few minutes out of town, round the corner, you can't miss it.

Being shown round Auschwitz 1 was chilling, and being shown the hundreds of photographs of people deported to the camp with their dates of death brought home the human story of the holocaust.

In one of the rooms of Auschwitz 1, the faces of children murdered in the camp are shown on the wall. One, Czesława Kwoka, was brought to Auschwitz in 1942 along with her mother Katarzyna and murdered, she was just 14 years old.

The image of Czesława and the fear and panic in her face is an image that will haunt me forever.

Along with this, we were shown the torture cells and the execution square, as well as the public gallows where former camp Kommandant Rudolf Hoess was hanged for his crimes by the Polish government after the war.

Perhaps the hardest moment was standing inside the gas chamber, looking up at the holes where the Zyklon B gas was poured in, knowing that on the exact spot I was standing hundreds, maybe even thousands of people were murdered.

After leaving Auschwitz 1 I caught up with Georgie Docker and Ted Poel, students from The King's School in Worcester.

Ted said: "Seeing it for real and seeing all the belongings on display really brings it home and it makes me angry that it ever happened."

Georgie added: "Seeing the video playing of Hitler and Goering giving their speech and everyone cheering is really hard to watch and shows how dark it all was."

Charlotte Koster, from Christopher Whitehead Language College, said: "I am one of those people who will probably get more upset after we have left. Right now it is all just sinking in."

Ethan Hadden, also from Christopher Whitehead, said: "It is incredible to see all the belongings and to think that it isn't even a fraction of the total number of people that died."

After leaving Asuchwitz I we were back on the bus and driven to Auschwitz Birkenau, where the majority of Auschwitz victims were murdered.

What struck me was how the site is seemingly endless, staring down the fence into the distance, you cannot see the end of the complex. What it must have looked like when 100,000 people were living there is unimaginable.

Birkenau was a different experience from Auschwitz 1, the open space of the camp gives you much more time to think and digest what you have seen and heard, and it was here that the enormity of what took place there really began to sink in.

After being shown the barrack hut, train tracks and gas chambers at Birkenau, we gathered at the memorial where Rabbi Shaw gave a profoundly moving address about love versus hate, and challenged us all to tell the story of what happened, so that it can never happen again.

Visiting Auschwitz left me with a moral debate that I am not sure I will ever have the answer to, namely how far will a person compromise their morals in an evil society? Are they evil to begin with? Or do they just carry out evil deeds?

The history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is littered with stories of 'normal' people who compromised their morals and committed acts of unimaginable evil.

If anyone reading this has never been to Auschwitz, you need to go. Being a witness to this and telling the world is our duty to humanity to prevent the kind of hatred that cost the lives of six million people from ever being allowed again.