As part of the NeBooks Project, I have been working with Westside High School and the Institute for Holocaust Education to develop several iBooks of Holocaust survivors that reside in Nebraska. The survivors are continuing to age, and it is the goal to capture their stories in a way that will continue with future generations. Throughout this process, I have been invited to hear the survivors speak with the students and answer any questions that they might have during their research. Today was the first time that I have had the chance to hear a Holocaust survivor speak in person.
Rachel Rosenberg was only 14 years old when she was taken from her home in Poland, and subsequently sent to four different concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Rachel vividly described how the Nazi soldiers were mean and simply murderers, especially the women. She recounted when soldiers randomly lined people up and split the lines for the gas chamber or concentration camp. She told her story of survival. But it wasn’t until recently that Rachel was able to share her story. In fact, her own children didn’t even know about her story until their early adulthood. Thankfully, Rachel has gained the courage and confidence to tell her Holocaust survival story and those who have had the chance to hear it, have learned just how much strength this woman has.
There are obviously so many things to learn from Rachel’s story, as there is with any Holocaust survivor story. For me, it is simply the moral imperative to share. I have heard this phrase from several educational leaders who discuss the importance of sharing your story in an educational context…but I have never believed in it so much until this day.
Rachel went almost 70 years without telling her survival story. Can you even imagine? She could have easily left this earth without sharing. But she didn’t. She found the confidence to slowly start talking about her experiences, her struggles, and her liberation. For that, this world thanks her.
The goal of creating these iBooks has always been to produce books that teachers can use to help students understand the Holocaust from a local survivor and ensure that their story lives on. These students have now been given the gift of Rachel’s story to include in their book and pass on to future generations. Rachel, along with these students, are practicing the moral imperative to share. Are you?