On Oct. 24, the Genocide class students had the opportunity to listen to presentations from Holocaust survivor Henny Simon and veteran combat medic and liberator Ben Cooper. Genocide teachers Nina Bumpus, Bill Casertano, and Jen O’Brien organized the event, which lasted three hours during Blocks Two and Three.
The first to speak was Henny Simon. She began to read from a journal she had composed of all her experiences during the Holocaust. She talked about the concentration camp she was sent to at sixteen years old. Simon explained that it was hard to talk about what had happened to her because it has remained with her for her entire life. However, she proceeded to tell her audience as much as she could. After she finished her speech, students were allowed to ask questions. Most students were shy at first, but they eventually grew more comfortable and asked about Simon’s emotional response to everything that had happened. Junior Jessica Armstrong bravely said to Simon, “I am so sorry for what happened to you.”
Next to speak was Ben Cooper, who served as a combat medic and liberator during World War Two. He brought with him significant pieces of history, including a Nazi flag that had been hung on Adolf Hitler’s apartment and the equipment he carried with him during the war. He talked about people he had helped and his personal efforts in the war. He spent most of his time in France resisting Nazi forces, but spent a significant amount of time at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Cooper also helped three little girls who were orphaned during the war, one of whom he is still in contact with today. At the end of his presentation, he made a point to repeat his “life-saving motto” that he and his wife adopted, which is, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Many students felt that listening to Simon and Cooper in person was better than learning about people’s experiences in class. “It was such a rewarding experience,” senior Kali Money said. “You always learn about the Holocaust in school and on TV and media outlets, but hearing it from a real perspective is something that meant the world to me, and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way.”
Samantha Barnes, Staff Writer
Junior Samantha Barnes is a staff writer for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She competes all over New England with her three horses and plays basketball at school.