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Holocaust Education Makes a Difference

Holocaust Education Makes a Difference

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Holocaust Memorial, Budapest (for more information click on link)

Alabama is too often association with bigotry toward ethnic, racial and religious groups, or any group perceived to be different or foreign.  Yet good things are happening at West Blocton High School, and in schools around Alabama, thanks to outstanding teachers like Logan Greene, a member of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center’s Teacher Cadre. 

Mr. Green teaches a unit on the Holocaust by telling the very personal and poignant story of a Polish survivor, Felicia Fuksman. Recently, I attended a workshop by Mr. Greene, sponsored by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. Mr. Green shared the powerful interactive slide show he created for his students, which includes compelling interviews with Felicia Fuksman, telling photographs, and gripping archival video clips. 
 Felicia Fuksman was born in Lodz, Poland. When Hitler’s troops invaded Poland in 1938, her life and her family were smashed apart. As WWII began, the Jews were forcibly herded into crowded, unsanitary ghettos where thousands died of starvation and disease. Fortunately, Felicia’s previous training enabled her to work as a nurse in the Lodz ghetto until August 1944 when she was deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp. After barely surviving the camp, she was sent to work in an airplane factory in Germany under horrific conditions. The Russians finally liberated Felicia in 1945. After the war, Felicia learned that not one member of her family had survived. The Nazis had murdered her two brothers, two sisters, and her mother and father. After four years in a Displaced Persons camp, Felicia was finally able to move to New Orleans in 1950. For more of Felicia’s story visit: 
http://www.southerninstitute.info/holocaust_education/felicia_fuksman.html (Felicia Fuksman Holocaust Survivor’s Interview)
So why should students learn about this tragic and evil period in history? Because the Holocaust provides one of the most effective ways to examine the pressing moral issues of bigotry and hatred that a civilized society must face in order to survive. In response to the question, “What do you think students took away from your course on Holocaust?” Mr. Greene replied, “They are becoming the leaders in our school. They speak out when they see students being bullied or put down. I know they are more thoughtful about news headlines involving prejudice against others because they come to discuss the issues with me. There’s a plaque in West Blocton about the Jewish Synagogue that once stood in the town, and they want to find out more about it.”

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Memorial Plaque in West Blocton


Understanding the history of the Holocaust allows teachers to reinforce one of the central mandates of education in the United States: to examine what it means to be a responsible citizen.
With the support of outstanding educators like Logan Green, and the resources of organizations like the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center there is indeed hope that we can educate future generations to take their place as guardians of decency and justice for all in our country and in the world community. 
Mr. Logan Greene teaches U.S. History and Holocaust Studies at West Blocton High School. Mr. Greene is a member of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center’s Teacher Cadre. He has attended training sessions from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, and the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University.  His presentation will teach you how to become a "courier of memory" — telling the story of a survivor on a very personal level Mr. Greene told the story of Polish Holocaust survivor Felicia Fuksman who later relocated to New Orleans, LA.
For more information visit:
http://www.bhamholocausteducation.org (Birmingham Holocaust Education Center)
http://isjl.org/history/archive/al/westBlocton.html (West Blocton's Jewish Community)

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