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Students reflect on Holocaust survivor tales

Rochester Secondary College students visited the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne last week.

ELAINE COONEY May 17, 2013 4:31am

Kyle Chisholm, Will Johnson and Danielle Pangrazio at the Jewish Holocaust centre in Melbourne last week.

Rochester Secondary College students visited the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne last week and came back with greater knowledge about how the Jewish people suffered while Hitler was in power in Nazi Germany.

The purpose of the trip was to help them gain a clearer understanding of their History text, Night, which is a Holocaust survival story.

Campaspe News spoke to three of the students who visited the centre and met Holocaust survivors.

Student Danielle Pangrazio said the experience was much better than reading the text because she heard three survivors’ stories.

The students had the opportunity to ask the survivors questions and take a tour of the museum.

Student Damien Nelson said reading about the number of people who died did not have as much impact as when the survivors spoke about it.

Student Dominique Atley said it was confronting to realise the survivors actually went through it and it was not just something in the history books.

‘‘It was pretty moving,’’ she said.

‘‘What I found most confronting was they had a little Jewish girl’s dress in a frame and I just realised how many children died and how many babies died and that they were so innocent in the whole thing.’’

Ms Atley said one of the survivors named Joe spoke about his family dying in the camp and how he escaped.

She said because he was a similar age then, as she is now, she related more to it and could not imagine doing what he did.

Ms Pangrazio said when the Jewish people were put into the death camps they had a number tattooed on their arm and were no longer considered humans.

‘‘You read that in the memoir and then you go and see someone with that on their arm; it made it all so real and they have to live with that for the rest of their lives,’’ she said.

Mr Nelson said the visit offered real insight and made the subject more interesting for him.

Ms Pangrazio said not having the museum experience would have made it harder to write an essay about it in the history exam.

‘‘I think now it allows us to use more of an emotional point of view from it,’’ she said.

Elaine Cooney

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