Nathaniel Woodhull Elementary School fifth-grade students recently welcomed Holocaust survivor Werner Reich as a special guest to hear about his firsthand experiences as a prisoner in four Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In preparation for Mr. Reich’s visit, students read books detailing the atrocities of the Holocaust including The Diary of Anne Frank, Between the Shadows and Benno and the Night of the Broken Glass. Students and their families also raised $200 to donate to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in his honor.
During this powerful and emotional talk, Mr. Reich showed a PowerPoint of still photographs and quotes which recounted the history of the Holocaust, his experiences at the death camps between 1943-45 and how those experiences changed him forever. He was ultimately liberated by Allied Forces on May 5, 1945, just two days before Germany’s surrender.
Mr. Reich, whose arm stills bears a fading tattoo – Nazi identification number A-1828 – conducts these presentations to deliver messages to young people that if they see bullying of any form that they should not be bystanders and be one of the JUST, an acronym for those who Judge a situation, Understand the problem, Solve that problem and Take action.
“The students learned how Mr. Reich’s experiences can directly relate to their own lives,” said Jaclyn Duddleston, fifth grade teacher, Nathaniel Woodhull Elementary School, who has been organizing Mr. Reich’s visits to the school for the past several years. “Mr. Reich said, ‘We do not want people to be Tolerated...to be put up with, but rather show acceptance...to understand someone.’” He also showed students through his experiences how “the good people did nothing.” Mr. Reich implored the students to be JUST, to be good to one another, and to say something when a friend needs help. “Be one of the good people who does something.”
- Woodhull Elem