Middle school students learn about holocaust from firsthand story

March 30, 2019

Eighth graders Berit Serle and Kennedy Tope from Stillwater Middle School had the opportunity in March to have Holocaust survivor Fred Amram talk to their class about his experience during the Holocaust. Amram grew up in Germany during the Holocaust and shared what it was like growing up Jewish in Hannover, Germany as the Nazi party came into power.

Serle wanted to talk to a Holocaust survivor for her English project and when her father came into contact with Amram, he suggested speaking to her whole class.

“I originally started out with wanting to do a interview with Holocaust survivor and my dad and I are Jewish. And he had some connections. Then he found Professor Amram. Then when I told him that I wanted to talk to you in person, one on one, he suggested the idea of talking to a bigger crowd for a bigger influence. Then I brought Kennedy along with me to kind of bring that to fruition,” Serle said.

Amram’s talk with the students was about the gradual progression of anti-Semitism in Germany and how they need to be able to recognize warning signs and not be bystanders when they see oppression of a group. The talk entailed how the oppression of Jews did not happen in one night and there was a build up of many years of prejudice and hate.

It’s important that everybody gets to hear a story about how they can affect the world because honestly, in this generation if we don’t hear their stories now they’re going to be gone.”

— Fred Amram

“I personally was surprised how quickly everything happened during the Holocaust, how it started off with these little things and then became this big thing in a matter of years,” Serle said.

The Holocaust is seen as a horrific time in history and sadly, jokes are made about it. The girls were worried about their classmates being rude or disrespectful, but they were happily surprised with how it turned out.

“We were all nervous that the kids were going to be rude about it and to him and just talk and do things, but it was dead silent the entire time and I think everyone was really just into it and just listening to it a lot more than we thought they would,” Tope said.

The hope of the talk was to educate the students about the Holocaust and how certain events could have been prevented if someone stood up and fought for the oppressed.

“[Amram’s] biggest point in the presentation was that you need to speak up whenever something bad is happening and that it could prevent so many terrible things,” said Tope.

The girls hoped that this talk with the class would help educate their peers about the ramifications of being a bystander and not letting prejudice and oppression take control. They believe the talk was very beneficial for their peers and they hope for more speakers, like Amram, to come talk to their school.

“It’s important that everybody gets to hear a story about how they can affect the world because honestly, in this generation if we don’t hear their stories now they’re going to be gone,” Serle said.

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