Holocaust project lets students document stories of survivors

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Millions of people were deliberately killed in the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II in what is forever known as the Holocaust. We looked at what is being done to help the next generation learn and grasp the depth of those numbers.

We joined a class virtually Wednesday for the project “Names, Not Numbers” which introduces young students to the people who lived through the Holocaust.

When you add in the number of people who survived the Holocaust, 6 million – the approximate number of Jews murdered during the time period — doesn’t begin to cover the number of lives changed forever.

It’s hard to listen to the worst moments of someone’s life.

“I remember being very frightened,” Holocaust survivor Miriam Klein-Kassanoff said.

“Nobody came home,” Holocaust survivor David Mermelstein said. “The other brother didn’t make it either.”

Students listen to survivors retell some of the worst moments in modern world history.

“My mom is gone. My dad is gone. My brother is gone. I’m the only one left, and I miss them,” Klein Kassanoff explained. “Every time I retell the story, my heart breaks.”

But Klein-Kassanoff will tell you she must share the story as many times as she can.

Students we joined are part of the “Names, Not Numbers” project to preserve the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust. It was started by Tova Rosenberg.

“To date, there have been over 2,500 survivors or World War II veterans that have been involved,” Rosenberg said.

In 2018, Florida Department of Education provided funding to schools to participate in the project. Students learn how to ask questions, film the interviews themselves and edit the stories together. Those pieces are then archived for history to remember.

“The only way that you’ll be able to like fight the anti-Semitism is by knowing what you’re fighting,” student Yona Groisman said.

A big part of this project is documenting the reaction of students as well. Tova told us, when they ask the kids what they’re going to do if someone says something hateful, whether it’s denying the Holocaust or any racist comment, they said they’ll show them the film they made, show what hate can lead to.

Because of the pandemic, the State stopped funding the project, but that won’t stop the mission.

“All the suffering and all my anger is gone because, in the children, I see my vengeance,” Holocaust survivor Anita Karl said.

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