Our Circle Grows


Compiled by the Staff of the HGP
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York

Former students, now attending college and on-line, send us messages from time to time. Some offer help...or just memories. Present high school students evaluate us, and send us information on a consistent basis. We keep all their writing and hope to continue this "bridge" into the future.

[ Abe Stone and Students ]
Survivor Abe Stone from Jody, Poland
with Ms. Nicklas and HGP Students


Greetings from Brown. All is great here. Yesterday we had convocation and Elie Wiesel came to speak. He was amazing. I think you've heard him speak before so you probably know what a hypnotizing voice he has. He's absolutely amazing. He started off by telling us that he was incredibly jealous of us all, that we were where we were, that we are as smart as we are, and that we are so "terribly young." He said, "When will people realize that fanaticism is awful, that racism is stupid? When you teach them." He told us never to stop learning, that we should always take a pen to paper and learn. He said that that's what got him through Buchenwald. He warned us against dissecting the Holocaust because when "the mystery of the forbidden becomes obvious, it is a terrible thing." He said that dissection can lead to trivialization. He said he never wants to hear the word "Auschwitz" without trembling, and he fears that too much discussion may do that. I'll send you a transcript soon. He's an amazing man. I am so impressed with what he's done for himself, for others, for me.

Celeste Perri
Brown University

 *

I hardly had enough time to contact my roommates before I got here. But the ever-concerned student that I am, I continue doing work for the HGP. This summer I met a man who, along with his wife, is a Holocaust survivor. He was in the army and lost his whole family. His name is Willie.... I hope the HGP is getting off to a good start this year. Don't forget to keep me posted. My theology class will be studying the Holocaust later this semester and I told the professor that the HGP might be able to provide supplementary materials....

Reema Sanghvi
Georgetown University

 *

Well now that I've got some questions out of the way, I wanted to tell you I will be reading Maus by Spiegelman and The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi. Both are about the Holocaust. Then, after we finish reading this we are going to see an art exhibit. It's supposed to have something to do with the Holocaust. If you want, I can see if they will let me take pictures. If it's good, maybe I could write an article and send it to you.

Kevin Johnson
Lafayette College

 *

We are really relieved that you are allowing people to read this. We think that the past should be known, so we do not make the mistake of repeating those heinous acts. Everyone should be given the chance to read about this horrifying event so they are better able to be sympathetic of those who suffered so unfairly during the Holocaust.

Albuquerque High School students

 *

What can I say? Things come back to you like true friends and nightmares you cross paths with and things that are important more than once.

The French lady, with whom I stayed while studying in France for the year, kept telling me not to worry, "The important words keep coming back. You'll recognize them in no time." Well, it's funny how these things happen, but she was right, of course. Those irregular verbs and even the slang did come back until it eventually sank in. So, I guess I will see my true friends in twenty years. Good. But my nightmares? How can it be that I'll even want to bump into them in an elevator somewhere?

Things come back to you.

In my junior year of high school, I was asked to contribute something to the opening of the Holocaust Exhibit in the newly finished art gallery at our high school. "What's this," I thought, "they need people to make the exhibit?" No. They did not. People came anyway. Regardless of my insignificant oil pastel, they came. They came to cross paths with a nightmare.

Then over Christmas break of my sophomore year in college I was travelling through Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic with friends. One of our stops was Munich and its outlying suburb, Dachau.

Things come back to you.

Walking around an actual place where the two children from my artwork could have been sent, I felt a bit uneasy to say the least. I couldn't believe what I saw before me. I could not. Maybe that's why others don't. How does one believe you when you tell them of a real location where fellow man had poured cement foundations and raised up walls...focused so much of his attention on the destruction of others? How can you tell them so that they believe you?

We all felt a little displaced walking on the very spot so many had suffered, and I kept thinking of the brochure from the local chamber of commerce. It told of all the many wonderful things to do here in Dachau and mentioned, of course, the Camp Museum. I could not decide how I felt about that. Should we condemn today's citizens to live with this nightmare as if it were their own identity? Should we hold to them what their grandparents did? I don't know. Most likely it is not for me to say.

We spent the good part of that day blah day filing through the photographs and tiptoeing over a soil that seemed so sacred. None of us was very comfortable, and yet it wasn't so easy to pull ourselves away.

For us, I do not think that any old wounds were opened, but for myself, I think I encountered one of those "things" again. But this time I did not casually pass it in the shopping mall. This time, I came to see where it is born, a nightmare, born here and like a parasite living in people's memories. I am safe because I have no memories. I was not alive. But for others that day you could see their skin pale and their eyes droop a little, and almost imagine the lecherous phantom somewhere inside, feeding on the horrors of the past. Maybe that is why we were all feeling rather melancholy that day. We were seeing people face their nightmares, head on.

So, if you still do not think mankind has reason to cry out from a nightmare because nightmares are imaginary and figments of the mind, I tell you, "Come." Come with me, and I will show you where a nightmare, his own nightmare was conceived. For while the concrete may crumble at Dachau and eventually walls may rot, there are stone pillars and everlasting timbers in his mind that make up an eternal nightmare.

You may ask me how I can harp on things that took place before my own conception...something from which I am so detached...? Well, this is one of those things that concerns us all.

This is one of those things that comes back to you.

Ask me why this affects me, and I'll answer that it existed at one time, and that is enough.

Brian McDonagh
Notre Dame University

 *

My school is a public school so everyone, Jewish students and non-Jewish students, learns the same thing about the Holocaust. However as a Catholic, I believe that this study was more effective among the non-Jewish kids of the class than the Jewish kids. The Jewish kids in our class basically knew about the Holocaust, having been taught at home. They came into class with a sympathy towards the Jews of the 1930s and 1940s that the non-Jews lacked.

Those students who did know about it held the belief that it happened long ago, in a place far away, to people different from themselves. Studying the Holocaust helped to change these beliefs.

After reading books, watching videos, listening to Holocaust survivors, working on the Holocaust/Genocide Project, non-Jews gained a sympathy toward the Holocaust victims and a better understanding of their Jewish classmates. In this way, the study of the Holocaust had a profound effect on all of us and our belief in tolerance.... After studying the Holocaust, I encouraged others not only to study it but to remember it when making their own decisions between prejudice and tolerance.

Tami Thompson
Cold Spring Harbor High School

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I believe that my study of the Holocaust has been a very positive experience. From my increased knowledge, I have gained a greater acceptance of all people.... The most prominent insights that I have gained through the Holocaust is to love and accept everyone regardless of race, culture or religion.... I am now much more adamant in sticking up for unity amongst all people, and I cringe when I hear words of racism uttered.

Erin Browne
Cold Spring Harbor High School

 *

I'd like to tell you that on Monday, April 15th we got in touch with the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor who's living here in Zapala. He's a former student at our school. The talk with him was really interesting...I'd never have thought that I'd have the chance of meeting a person in Zapala who could give us information about this subject. His name is Pablo Seinkierman. He lived in Israel for two years. His grandfather taught him to speak Hebrew. Pablo immediately got hooked on our project and is committed to help us find a survivor in our region. With his help and our willingness to work, I'm sure we will achieve great things....

Guadalupe Ortiz
CPEM #3
Argentina

 *

Yesterday was the Holocaust Remembrance Day, so we decided to say some things about it to our class friends. Last week was very lucky for us, because we took a journey to our capital, Vilnius. There was the I*EARN seminar, and we met some guys who are participating in the Holocaust/Genocide Project, and we had a nice talk. We'll try to send you more stories of Lithuanian people who saved Jews.

Valdas Rusteika and Tomas Igoris
Kursenai L. Ivinskis School
Lithuania


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