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Imparting important lessons about the Holocaust

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On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Museum connected with 211 teachers and 7,700 students from 34 states and 3 countries in a webinar discussion with Holocaust survivor Luna Kaufman. Students heard Luna’s amazing stories of survival as a teenager living in the Krakow ghetto and then 3 concentration camps until her liberation at the end of the war.  In addition to sharing her personal reflections, Luna also showed students her striped work dress from when she was a prisoner.

Students submitted over 150 questions to Luna before and during the program. Although we certainly couldn’t answer all of them, many students were interested to learn what her message is for today’s youth. Luna told students that after emigrating to the United States, her revenge against the Nazis would be to live a positive life and to make a difference. Her mission is to promote inter-religious cooperation, understanding, and tolerance.  Luna not only became the first female president of Temple Sholom, but she was instrumental in construction of the Liberation Monument in Liberty State Park, New Jersey. Luna also spent many years working closely with antisemitism activist, Sister Rose Thering. She had this advice for students watching, “You have to open your eyes and arms to other races, other religions, other cultures to see that we are all equal and that we all need to work with each other because that’s the only way this world will survive.”

At the conclusion of the webinar, we asked students to interpret Luna’s message and this famous quote by Martin Niemoller in their own lives:“First they came for the socialists and I didn’t speak out—because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out—because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We received some wonderful and compelling student responses:

“You have to speak up when you have the chance. And you have to do it with boldness and courage.”
“Every person has a voice; it is our responsibility to use it.”
“Stand up and be part of the solution”
“We are each responsible to speak up for each other’s right to live freely in this life with which we are blessed.”

If you missed the webinar you can watch to the recording at your own convenience.

Looking for more Holocaust resources for your classroom? Check out the Museum’s lesson plan and fact sheet. Local teachers, register for the upcoming Echoes and Reflections Workshop on February 26th.

Be sure to tune in to next free student webinar on the 70th Anniversary of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising featuring the National Museum of the Marine Corps on February 23rd.

Post by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator

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