WHITING | Whiting Middle School students traveled to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center two days before their Spring Break to view the museum’s artifacts and learn the many lessons of the Holocaust. Seventy-five students of Mrs. Smith and Mr. Evon had the privilege of walking through the museum viewing relics of this terrible time in history. The students and parents had strong feelings and emotions as they toured the museum’s permanent exhibit.
Eighth grader, William Ramos said, “Our field trip to the Holocaust museum, along with our Holocaust unit of study, helped me to better understand the Holocaust on an emotional level. To not acknowledge this crime against humanity is to allow it to happen again; this is why we must study the Holocaust.”
One of the most powerful artifacts in the museum is a cattle car which possibly carried thousands of men, women and children to the death camps. Emily Sparks said, “Going to the Holocaust museum was very emotional and interesting trip for me. The museum was dark and sad music played as we walked through the memories of the six million Jewish people and six million other victims. Being in the cattle car was heartbreaking as images of those who might have once been in the car rushed through my head; it seemed unbelievable.”
To complete this memorable experience, the students heard Holocaust survivor George Levy Mueller tell his story of survival. Mueller was held captive at Vught, Westerbork, and Bergen Belsen (same camp as Anne Frank) concentration camps. Jacqueline Zarate stated, “ As I was listening to Mr. Mueller speak to us, I felt like I was sitting face to face with history, and it made the whole Holocaust learning experience sink in and feel so real.” Many students purchased Mr. Levy’s book, Lucie’s Hope, which tells his story and his sister’s experiences during this time in history. Brian Flores said, “While I was listening to Mr. Mueller’s life story, I felt like a piece of history was right in front of me.” Yesenia Castelan said, “Hearing the survivor talk was a way of reminding us that all of the horrid things we read were not just words in a book but events that happened to actual people.”
Interestingly enough, after George Mueller was done speaking he said to Mrs. Smith that he knew the town of Whiting well; he had once played in a band that would often perform at the Moose Lodge in the 1970’s and 1980’s in Whiting. To learn more yourself, go to http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/ for a virtual tour of the museum on-line. You can also go to Mrs. Smith’s webpage at the School City of Whiting site to see student artwork that was done for this Holocaust unit.