middle school students in classroom wearing masks

Landmark Observes Holocaust Remembrance Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Students and faculty packed the Performing Arts Center on April 11, 2018, to observe a commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The crowd watched in somber silence as Bill Chamberlain narrated a frank and emotional overview of the atrocities carried out against Jews, gays, Gypsies, Poles, and people with handicaps at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. A slideshow of disturbing, graphic images documented the suffering of victims and illustrated how the Nazis, despite committing unfathomable acts of violence, resembled regular people, not the monsters they were. More than 6 million people, mostly Jews, died during the Holocaust.

Student Perspectives

holocaust remembrance landmark schoolSeveral students spoke about what moved them after visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "I was struck by how ordinary Nazis appeared. They could be a member of your family or your neighbors," said Lydia. "And that really scared me."

Ben talked about how victims were loaded onto train cars like cattle, with 150 people crammed into spaces with the capacity for only 50. They endured days-long journeys to concentration or labor camps—journeys to death—in unspeakable conditions, with just one window and one bucket for human waste. To illustrate how cramped people were, Ben asked the front row of more than 20 people to squeeze onto a rectangle on the floor that measured about 4 ft by 6 ft. He then said "to make this more realistic, you'd have to multiply the number of people by seven to get a sense of what those cattle cars were really like." 

Selfless Heroes

Lizzie opened her presentation with an image from the museum of hundreds of shoes once worn by Holocaust victims. "People went to a shop to buy shoes to wear on outings with their families. Instead they wore them on a march to their death." She then talked about Hans and Sophie Scholl, German teenage siblings who were anti-Nazi activists and members of the White Rose non-violent resistance group who were executed for their anti-Nazi resistance work.

Isabel recounted how Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, risked his life to save more than a thousand Jews from death by employing and housing them in his enamelware and munitions factory. "He referred to them as 'His Jews,'" said Isabel. "He spent all of his savings to save them."

Mr. Chamberlain told the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese official working in Lithuania. Sugihara defied orders from his superiors and issued exit visas to some 6,000 Jews, allowing them to flee Europe and almost certain death.

The presentation ended with images of Holocaust memorials around the globe from Berlin to Miami while students digested the weight of the information that was shared. Thank you to Bill Chamberlain and Bill Ferguson for organizing this moving and important remembrance.