#71569 Speaks. Cross Listens

Allan Appel PhotoJamilett Hernandez wanted proof that the Holocaust actually happened. She wanted to see a tattooed Jewish arm.

Number 71569 obliged.

“It’s my badge of honor,” Number 71569 said.

The exchange occurred at a riveting assembly at Wilbur Cross High School Tuesday afternoon at which 200 students heard Number 71569—aka Anita Schorr—describe how she survived Terezin, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen through hope and perseverance.

“I am not here to have you pity me,” she said when her address concluded to a standing ovation. “They used to say ‘Remember!’ ‘Remember’ is not enough any more. I am here to tell you to take action in the playground” against bullying.

(Click here to read about a similar event that took place across town Tuesday at a parochial school, where the Rwandan genocide was tied to bullying.)

Schorr told her Cross audience none in the free world came to the aid of the Jews as they were humiliated, then isolated, then slaughtered by the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s. Schorr said, “I am asking you to be a hero. Only you can make a better world for yourself.”

Schorr’s message spoke to the students of English and history teachers Karen Robinson, Diana Dima, and Kevin Lipinski, who organized the event. They not only wanted to bring the Holocaust experience alive but to connect it to the lives of their students.

They’ve been reading Elie Wiesel’s Night. They’ve studied an Anti-Defamation League curriculum that includes a “pyramid of hate” that can begin with being a bystander, build up to bullying and end with genocide, said English teacher Karen Robinson.

The unit culminates Wednesday when she and the other teachers plan to bring their non-native English speakers, along with other students, for a visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Manhattan.

One of those students is senior Yolanda Benitez, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in New Haven just five years. She said she saw parallels between her family’s experience and that of the Jews of Europe in the steps leading to genocide: “They don’t want them to have a home or medical help.”

Another student asked Schorr how she could resist a desire for revenge since her parents, siblings, and most of her family were murdered. “Hatred ruins you as a human being. I prefer to build,” she said, again to applause.

“I’ve never seen our kids so engaged,” said Assistant Principal Grace Nathman.

Civics and journalism teacher Jim Brochin added a cautionary note: “So many students here feel they’re not safe. The message, be a hero, is both encouraging and a challenge for kids who live in tough neighborhoods because they might put themselves in danger.”

As part of their study, the kids also produced “Break the Silence” bracelets that they are selling. Proceeds go to the Anti-Defamation League and to the Holocaust Child Survivor Organization of Connecticut, of which Schorr is a part.

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 16, 2012  9:26am

I hope they also talked about how Blacks were apart of the Holocaust.

“Hitler’s Forgotten Victims”
by David Okuefuna and Moise Shewa



posted by: SLP on May 16, 2012  10:14am

Thank you for the positive coverage of a Cross event.

posted by: streever on May 16, 2012  12:06pm

Great job by these teachers! Thank you for showing New Haven kids that history is alive.

posted by: orangestreeter on May 16, 2012  1:46pm

if the students/teachers at cross or the independent staff want to post a link to buy some bracelets, i’m sure some of us readers would love to support the cause!

excellent job to all involved.

posted by: HhE on May 17, 2012  6:55am

What an amazing program.

Threefifths, I do think, as awful as the black holocaust was, less than 30,000 to six million give or take, says a lot about where the focus lies.

Persons of color
Main articles: Black people in Nazi Germany and Racial policy of Nazi Germany#Other “non-Aryans”
The number of black people in Germany when the Nazis came to power is variously estimated at 5,000–25,000.[307][308] It is not clear whether these figures included Asians. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., “The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and other groups.”[308] Meanwhile, Afrikaaners, Berbers, Iranians and Pre-Partition Indians were classified as Aryans, so not persecuted (see main article).

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 17, 2012  12:09pm

posted by: HhE on May 17, 2012 7:55am

What an amazing program.

Threefifths, I do think, as awful as the black holocaust was, less than 30,000 to six million give or take, says a lot about where the focus lies

You need to get your facts straight.The term “Holocaust” has become effectively synonymized with “Genocide of Jews” Also those of other faiths and ethnicities who also died at the hands of the Nazis,The label “untermenschen” seared into their corpses. The Black Holocaust started in 1890s Blacks were tortured in German concentration camps in Southwest Africa (now called Namibia) when Adolph Hitler was only a child. Colonial German doctors conducted unspeakable medical experiments on these emaciated helpless Africans decades before such atrocities were ever visited upon the Jews. In 1889, a German traveller called Blinger visited the Salaga market in the northen part of Ghana today, and made this startling revelation. “300 cowries are sold for a male slave, 400 for a female slave, 1000 cowries for a horse, 500 for an ox, and 150 on a sheep.” That was the depth to which African human lives were reduced.It is estimated that from 1451 to 1870 between 10 and 12 million slaves were exported from Africa. Between 1620 and 1870, over half a million slaves from Africa. And we can’t forget King Leopold II and the Congo who killed over 10 million african people in the Congo.And we can’t forget the Middle Passage.


posted by: ferocious.humingbird on May 17, 2012  8:18pm

Threefifths, this was a Holocaust survivor who was telling her own, personal story, so unless she was black (which she wasn’t) or met black people during her awful experience, she would most likely not mention the black peoples’ plight. It was not about race or religion. She related her experiences to EVERYONE and their need to stand up to bullies. On top of that, WCHS has fantastic, informed teachers who teach the necessary information to further their students’ educations, careers, and overall success in society. I’m sure all lessons were complete. With that said, in order to enter the presentation on Tuesday, students had to write and sign their own pledges taking a stand against violence and being a bystander. Perhaps these pledges would be a great springboard for you to talk to your child(ren) or members of your community about this inexplicable time in history, ALL of the people affected and how each person can help stop acts of hate and violence.
Orangestreeter and the rest of the supportive people who replied to the article, thank you for recognizing and acknowledging the efforts of WCHS’s teachers and students. It is your positive support that keeps the students, teachers and community, as a whole, motivated to tackle such heartfelt, yet necessary topics and teach them to our children/students.

posted by: NHPLEB on May 19, 2012  1:45am

The Holocaust survivor is not smiling. Why are Jamilett and the student next to her smiling and laughing?  What is funny??  What a picture to post, Independent… you should know better.

posted by: HhE on May 20, 2012  10:03pm

Thank you ferocious.hummingbird.  You said it far better than I, but I won’t let that me from continuing to rebut Threefifths.

The Holocaust the systematic murder of six million Jews and six million other people by the Nazis and their collaborators.

A holocaust, an episode of mass murder and genocide.

The _______ Holocaust, mass murder and genocide_________.

Colonialism= super, very bad, unethical.

Colonialism as practised by the Belgians and Germans = even worse.

Threefifths, you forgot to remind everyone of the Nazi’s efforts to exterminate gypsies and homosexuals.