This paper presents results describing the emotional experiences of Israeli high-school students following their participation in the heritage journey to visit Jewish Holocaust memorial sites in Poland. 13 Interviewees who participated in heritage journey to visit Jewish Holocaust memorial sites in Poland, were asked questions that touched upon their family connection to the Holocaust, the decision to participate or not to participate in the journey to Poland, their learning experiences regarding the journey, their views towards the moral dilemmas faced by Jews during and after the Holocaust, the moral lessons they learned and their experience of participation in the study itself.
The results revealed tension between initial interest and motivation to go on the journey and participants’ feelings of self-disappointment in relation to early expectations. The conclusions with regard to the ongoing debate on the various contributions of the journey to Poland and its necessity, points out that insufficient attention has been given to the inner emotional aspects of the journey’s effect.
With regard to the ongoing debate on the various contributions of the journey to Poland and its necessity it seems that insufficient attention has been given to the inner emotional aspects of the journey’s effect. This study aimed to look more deeply in to the souls of the young participants and explore new aspects which may change something in our perspective on the journeys. The results demonstrate a connection between expectations and outcomes – when the motivation for joining the journey includes excessive and unadjusted expectations, the student might later feel disappointment that their emotions on visiting the Holocaust sites in Poland did not comply with these expectations. This may actually be an unnecessarily self-harmful emotional reaction which might be prevented through sensitive and appropriate preparation before the journey follow reflection and discussion after returning home. When this kind of unbalanced emotional mechanism occurs it is not beneficial for the young participants. Moreover, it could be even considered as a counterproductive outcome, hindering the attainment of the desired educational goal. Understanding the multi-faceted nature of psychological reactions to the Holocaust and to the journey to Holocaust memorial sites in Poland will improve our understanding towards the benefits and emotional cost of the journey in its present formation.