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Auschwitz’s liberation, 75 years ago

2020 January 27
by Mike Vial

NPR article: “75 years after Auschwitz’s liberation, survivors urge world to remember”: read here

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My LA 9 students read this article, marking the anniversary: 75 years ago today, the Soviets liberated Auschwitz.

I asked my class why this 75th anniversary might mean more to them than the 100th anniversary, when they are my age.

Ben raised his hand: “In 25 years, all the survivors will have died. This anniversary, we as a generation can still speak to primary sources…”

Matt added, “It’s the three levels of history, Mr. Vial. This is the last chance for level one…”

My freshmen are finishing Wiesel’s memoir Night tonight. I read the memoir when I was their age. My DCHS copy, with a tattered cover, rests on my desk in my classroom. Urgently, I told my class that holding this book is a milestone in life, highlighting maturity and reflection. “We give it to you at this age, and we are saying you are old enough to carry this story in your hearts, and urge your hands to action in the future.”

I ponder, now, and consider this math–When I was born in (81), WWII’s end (45) was closer to me in time than my current age is from my birth…What is history?

Let’s pause and read these stories today, stories which might get lost in the blur of the news. The electric fence, the snow, the friendship of solidarity—they will be more memorable than the atrocious, immense numbers of genocide.

Let’s also pause and recognize concentration camps are happening on our Earth today; remembering is not enough.

Vocabulary/important words students selected from today’s reading: conviction, solidarity, accomplices, exempted, snow…


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