Guest Speakers Provide Holocaust Perspective

Sophomore English students conclude their Holocaust unit with an opportunity to hear first-hand survival stories


Andrew Baker

Presenter Shelly Bleiweiss shares the story of his parents survival of The Holocaust and what it was like growing up as a Second Generation Holocaust child.

Andrew Baker, Media Editor

The Holocaust is one of the most tragic events in human history. With a death toll upwards of six million people, it is not hard to see why remembering those dire circumstances is essential to the survival and growth of the human race. 

Sophomore English classes and an elective The Holocause and Genocide in World Studies cover the tragedies of The Holocaust. Sophomores experience the events by reading Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night

English teacher, Bettina Pope organized an event featuring two guest speakers to provide sophomores additional perspective beyond the memoir. The importance of humanizing the victims and understanding them as individual people is essential to understanding the tragedies. 

“Witness Testimony is powerful. Reading is one thing but hearing from or about someone who experienced the events makes it personal. Instead of focusing on the large number of 12 million persecuted people, you focus on a smaller group. There is power in one,” Pope said.

Shelly Bleiweiss, whose parents survived The Holocause, was the first speaker, for period 1 and 2 English students. Steve Goldberg presented to period 3 and 4 students. Goldberg, a former history teacher, shared the story of Holocaust survivor Abe Piasek. Goldberg and Piasek became friends, and before Piasek passed, he asked Goldberg to carry on the mission of telling his tale to young audiences. 

Pope aspires to inspire her students to be better people and to remember that everyone has their own story.

She hopes students emerge from their studies with an “empathy and an understanding on how one person and one act can not only impact you but those around you.” 

While survivors are now becoming too old to share their stories, the second generation whose parents lived through this tragedy are willing to share their knowledge. Pope would love for this to become a yearly occurrence to continue that mission. 

Editor’s Note: Reporters Kelcey Kelling and Ryan Smallwood contributed to this story.