Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 23, 2013

Making a history lesson ‘more real’


— ANDERSON, Ind. —

 It’s the 70th anniversary of World War II’s Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Jewish resistance that arose in German-occupied Poland in 1943.

But teachers at Anderson Preparatory Academy think that there’s a lesson there that their students need to learn – even if it was long before they were born. Same for their parents.

Teachers Kristina Retherford and Jeff Brunnmer wanted to create a lesson plan that would “make it more real for the students.” The classmates had read about Anne Frank and discussed the Holocaust, but it was a traveling exhibit – “Out of the Attic” -- that transported the students back to a much different time.

“To read about it is one thing,” Brunnmer said, “to see it is another.”

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of the Jewish concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. Between starvation, diseases and deportations to concentration camps, perhaps more than 300,000 people died or were put to death.

The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education's traveling exhibit allowed students to view newspaper clippings, clothing and other items from the  war that they’d only heard about or seen in photos.

They also listened to stories from survivors on videos; “stories that need to be told,” Retherford noted.

In addition to learning about Anne Frank and her family, eighth-grader Tomisha Nunn said she heard more about the hardships Jews faced in World War II and the “silly,” untrue information Nazis spread to turn people against them.

Eleventh-grader Isaiah Jones said he learned  how Jews were deported to ghettos — where they were only allowed a small amount of food and money and killed if they tried to escape.

“It’s a really important part of history,” Jones said of World War II. “The United States wouldn’t be what it is today if not for taking down Nazi Germany.”

Despite the odds, Nunn said she learned, Jewish pride didn’t waver during World War II.   One of the most important lessons people should take away, she added, is that discrimination can lead to horrible events like the Holocaust; an event that shouldn’t be the topic of jokes.

“It was really serious and people care about that,” Nunn said.

Brunnmer said he hoped there was another modern-day lesson his students learned. “One thing I hope everybody gets out of it (the lessons and exhibit) is that there needs to be tolerance in the world,” he said.



Details for this story were provided by Dani Palmer, a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.