Pilgrimage: the Road to Istanbul’s Edwina Currie and Pauline McLynn say concentration camp visit was “very, very moving”

The pair visited a former Nazi concentration camp in the Serbian city of Niš during the first episode of Pilgrimage: the Road to Istanbul

Programme Name: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - TX: n/a - Episode: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - ep 2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  Edwina Currie, Fatima Whitbread, Pauline McLynn - (C) CTVC - Photographer: Oliver Rose

Pilgrimage, the show which sees seven celebrities from various religious backgrounds embark on a long trek as they discuss their faith and beliefs, is returning to BBC Two tonight (Friday 27th March).

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This year the group are walking from Serbia to Istanbul and as usual they stop in many places of worship and spots of religious and spiritual significance on their journey.

One of the most moving moments in the first episode is a visit by some of the pilgrims to a Nazi concentration camp in the Serbian city of Niš, and speaking at a Q&A screening of the episode Edwina Currie and Pauline McLynn shared their thoughts about the visit.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been to a concentration camp because I’ve been to Auschwitz, but there are ghosts there,” said Currie, who is a non-practising Jew. “You’re walking on land that has been soaked in blood for all sorts of reasons.

McLynn added: “It was extraordinary. I didn’t realise that there was a concentration camp in Niš.

“Particularly to be there with Edwina was very, very moving. But to be there you realise that bad things really do leave a mark on time.

“But also because it was the scene of the first breakout… it did give you a great feeling of hope for humanity in many ways, if we can remember this and remember the bravery I think, you know, we can move forward. But certainly I would make it absolutely mandatory that people must visit such places.”

Programme Name: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - TX: n/a - Episode: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Mim Shaikh, Pauline McLynn, Dom Joly, Edwina Currie, Adrian Chiles, Fatima Whitbread, Amar Latif - (C) CTVC - Photographer: Oliver Rose
Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul – Mim Shaikh, Pauline McLynn, Dom Joly, Edwina Currie, Adrian Chiles, Fatima Whitbread, Amar Latif

Currie and McLynn also talked about some of the specific history about the concentration camp, and how it was characteristic of camps all throughout Europe.

“The men and women that did the breakout were heroes,” Currie explained. “They were resistance fighters. Most of the people in that camp had tried to raise the flag for decency and honourable, decent behaviour and the breakout in 1942 was an extraordinary act of great courage and heroism.

“What happened afterwards is typical of what happened right through the Nazi area. It happened in every occupied town and village in the whole of Europe where Nazism held sway, if soldiers were killed, there would be reprisals ten, twenty, a hundred times worse.”

And McLynn shared one detail about the breakout that she found particularly evocative.

“I will say one tiny thing about that breakout from the concentration camp is the older people threw themselves onto the barbed wire so that the younger people could make it out, which I find incredibly moving.”

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Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul starts Friday 27th March at 9pm on BBC Two. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide.