Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Local Survivor Testimony - In Hiding

Tonight  Jeff Benes and I will be presenting a lesson on “In Hiding” as part of Telling the Story: Teaching With Witness Testimony ~ A Seminar Series for Middle and High School Educatorsat the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.  As I viewed the testimonies of 4 local survivors for this segment, I was greatly affected by their recollections.

One in particular stood out in my mind.  Ralph Berets was two or three years old when he and his family were forced to leave their home in Amersfoort, Holland and go into hiding.  They lived for several months in a cottage that was owned by one of his father’s friends.  The Germans were informed of their presence and the family hid in a ditch until the soldiers left.  The family was forced to split up.  Ralph and his mother were hiding in an ice cream shop, where he always had something to eat.    

Other memories were of his parents’ playing cards with German soldiers and a grenade that was thrown into a window but did not explode.  They lived in a chicken coop with 12 other people and Ralph remembered the strong odor of the chickens.  Maybe his young age made his testimony so compelling to me.

It was interesting to study the different perspectives of the four survivors, not only in their ages but where they lived.  Margalith Clarenberg was 15 when she went into hiding in Holland. When Ann Walters was 13 years old, she was left with a farmer in Poland.  Maria Devinki lived in Wodzislaw, Poland.  She was a slave laborer.  She was released from the camp through the efforts of a Polish soldier who was a friend of a high school acquaintance.  He would be their protector for the next two years.  She was 23 years old when she, her husband, 2 brothers and her mother went into hiding.  She was 25 when the Soviets liberated Poland. 

I plan to use these four testimonies with my students as a lesson in perseverance as part of my Holocaust unit. You can find the documentary at the MCHE Resource Center and later this summer you can find the lesson plans we are teaching tonight on the MCHE website!

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