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Genocide: Then and NowBy Susan Bush
06:00AM / Thursday, June 14, 2007
Clarksburg - The exhibits were in place and each station illustrated another facet of the Nazi occupation of Europe and the horrors of the Holocaust. The students who created the displays, all taught by elementary school teacher Michael Little, milled about the school gym.
|Darius Jonathan, former advisor to the vice-president of Sudan [Photo by Sue Bush]|
And at 6 p.m., the school doors opened and visitors of "The Ruined and The Righteous: The Nazi Occupation of Europe 1933-1945" began to swarm each display.
This marked the second year that Little and his students tackled the challenging, emotionally-charged subject, and the second year that Erica Viens traveled to the school to see the exhibit. The Holocaust is responsible for the deaths of over six million European Jews, according to numerous historians. Jewish people were gassed, cremated, starved, beaten and killed by other torturous methods during the reign of German leader Adolf Hitler.
"I think it's good to teach about the Holocaust," Viens said. "When I was a freshmen in high school, a [Holocaust] survivor came and spoke and it had a very strong effect on me."
Erica Viens visited the Clarksburg Elementary School Holocaust exhibit a second time. [Photo by Sue Bush]
When asked if he was proud of the work his students had accomplished, Little said "Of course I am, look around."
Sarah Simonetti and Kristin Euchler are high school freshmen who participated during the 2006 Holocaust presentation. Simonetti and Euchler came to last night's presentation as volunteer assistants.
"This was the most interesting thing I've ever learned," said Simonetti. "And Mr. Little is the best teacher I ever had."
"This was so interesting and important to learn about,"said Euchler. "I wanted to be part of it again."
Exhibits included many World War II and Nazi artifacts from the collection of local historian Darrell K. English. Students researched numerous topics and produced displays on people including Sophie Scholl, who was a member of the White Rose Nazi resistance organization and was executed before the war ended.
A gymnasium-based exhibit about Anne Frank, whose family spent time in hiding in a small attic with several additional Jewish individuals,and whose diary was discovered and published after her death in a concentration camp, was expanded to a classroom. Seventh-grade students erected tributes to Frank inside of suitcases to illustrate the hardships of life in hiding. The exhibit was titled "A Life Story Told in Suitcases."
A jacket designed for a female youth involved with Hitler's youth iniative from the collection of Darrell K. English.[Photo by Sue Bush]
The Rabbi Robert Sternberg, director of the Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center in Springfield, spoke to numerous individuals about the Holocaust from a classroom and war veterans from the Northern Berkshire region hosted groups who passed through another classroom.
Among the displays stood an exhibit titled "Darfur." The booth sold bags of soup mix based on a favorite recipe of Mother Raile Daffala, with proceeds destined for the Sudan Relief Task Force. The task force is comprised of numerous Berkshire region churches that raise revenues specifically for persons who've been displaced by the violence and are living in the Khartoum region.
Also at the booth were members of the Mount Greylock Regional High School affiliate of the national "Help Darfur Now" organization.
Darius Jonathan, a former advisor to the vice-president of Sudan, was among the featured speakers at the event. During a brief interview, Jonathan said the current situation is "unacceptable."
A booth focused on Darfur was included in the exhbit.
"People are dying; 200,000, 300,000 people dead in three years," Jonathan said. "This is not acceptable in any civilized government. [Government officials] try to blame it all on the militias but it is the government that is depopulating the area to get to the resources, oil and uranium. The government has used money to buy people's silence."
"What I would like to see is pressure on the Sudan government and the people responsible for this brought to a court, a world court."
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.