Scrapbookpages Blog

June 9, 2014

Holocaust survivor Anita Schorr educates students about bullying and bystanders

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:52 am

In a news article, which you can read in full here, Holocaust survivor Anita Schorr told 8th grade students in the Rogers Park Middle School in Connecticut about what it was like for the Jews in her native country of Czechoslovakia (now The Czech Republic) when she was a child.

I previously blogged about another talk that Anita Schorr gave to students here.  In that talk, she told the students about how the Germans had poisoned the bread at Bergen-Belsen in an attempt to kill all the prisoners before the camp was voluntarily turned over to the British on April 15, 1945.  The bread for the prisoners was baked in the SS camp that was next door to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; Ms. Schorr implied that the  Germans were planning to poison everyone, including all the guards in the camp, before the British arrived to take over the camp, as planned.

This quote is from the article about Anita Schorr’s latest talk to students:

Eventually, in spring 1941, the rumors proved true. Schorr and her family were herded onto railroad cars and shipped to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the northwest part of the country [Czechoslovakia]. The 10-year-old girl accustomed to passing her days in classrooms or on snow-covered mountains learned how oppressive and consuming hunger can be, turning humans into “food hunters.”

“Hunger took over you — suddenly you couldn’t think of anything else,” she said. “Hunger takes over your ability to function, your ability to think. It takes over your ability to be a human being.”

In the morning, prisoners at the camps received a piece of bread with a pad of margarine “the size of a postage stamp.” At lunch, the meal was soup filled with vegetables no one recognized, as they “were vegetables they fed to cattle.”

Several years ago, I visited the former Theresienstadt ghetto, now the town of Terezin, where I took the photo below. I was told that the moat around the old Theresienstadt fort was used to grow vegetables when the town was a prison for prominent Jews.

What kind of vegetables were grown in the camp?  I am guessing that the vegetables were root vegetables, such as turnips, beets, parsnips and rutabagas, all of which are very good for one’s health.

Moat at Theresienstadt where vegetables were grown for the prisoners

Moat at Theresienstadt where vegetables were grown

Did Anita Schorr tell the students about what happened to the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia after World War II?  Probably not, so I will have to tell you.

This quote is from an article which you can read in full here.

A Brutal Peace: On the Postwar Expulsions of Germans

It was one of many ugly episodes in 1945. On a summer day in Horni Moatenice, a small town in central Czechoslovakia, 265 people, including 120 women and seventy-four children, were dragged from a train, shot in the neck, and buried in a mass grave that had been dug beside the local railway station. It was a common enough scene in Central and Eastern Europe during World War II, when Nazi extermination policies threatened entire ethnic groups. But despite the similarity of means and ends, the massacre in Horni Moatenice was different. For one thing, it occurred on June 18, after the war in Europe had officially ended. Moreover, the perpetrators were Czechoslovak troops, and their victims were Germans who had been a presence in the region for centuries.

In her latest talk to students, Anita Schorr told the students about the fact that she was sent from Auschwitz (the death camp) to Hamburg to work, picking up the rubble after the city was bombed. Anita was under the age of 15, when she arrived at Auschwitz, but inexplicably she was not sent to the gas chamber. Probably, this was another case of Dr. Josef Mengele goofing off, and not doing his job.

This quote is from the news article about her talk:

Schorr later spent time on a work crew in Hamburg when the city was being bombed five times a day and eventually moved to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Did Ms. Schorr elaborate on what the Germans endured during World War II when their cities were bombed into rubble and there was no shelter and no water or food.  No, of course not.  The Germans were bullies and bystanders and they deserved their fate.  God forbid that American students should learn anything about the suffering of the German people during World War II.

Photo of Hamburg after the city was bombed

Photo of Hamburg after the city was bombed

This quote from Wikipedia tells about the bombing of Hamburg:

The attack [on Hamburg] during the last week of July 1943, Operation Gomorrah, created one of the largest firestorms raised by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces in World War II,[2]killing 42,600 civilians and wounding 37,000 in Hamburg and practically destroying the entire city.[3] Before the development of the firestorm in Hamburg there had been no rain for some time and everything was very dry.[4] The unusually warm weather and good conditions meant that the bombing was highly concentrated around the intended targets and also created a vortex and whirling updraft of super-heated air which created a 1,500-foot-high tornado of fire, a totally unexpected effect.

Another source puts the number of civilians killed in the bombing of Hamburg at 44,600.

Bomb damage in Hamburg, Germany

Bomb damage in Hamburg, Germany

To put the bombing of civilians in Hamburg into perspective, there were around 31,000 prisoners who died, of all causes, at Dachau, another 30,000 who died at Sachsenhausen and another 30,000 who died at Buchenwald.  So the Allies killed more German civilians in one bombing raid, than the Nazis killed in any of the three main camps in Germany during all the years that the camps were in existence.

But why should students in America today be told about German civilians being killed?  Today, it is only the suffering of the  Jews that Americans should know about, so that it will never happen again.

This final quote is from the news article about Anita Schorr’s latest talk to students:

More than 70 years later, speaking to middle-school students as she often does, Schorr reiterated the atrocities committed by the Nazis were rooted in the same type of behavior children engage in daily — bullying.

“This is the beginning of tragedy,” she said. “You can ruin a nation by bullying or you can ruin a person by bullying.”

More than anything else, her message was to take an active role against injustice, no matter how small.

“It has to be stopped, and you can stop it,” she said. “You have to commit yourself that you won’t be a bystander.”

February 22, 2010

School bullying in America

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:27 pm

I’ll give you a clue as to how old I am: when I went to school, bullying was not a word.  Bully was a word, but it was always used as a noun, never as a verb.  Bullying is a gerund, and back then, school kids knew a gerund when they saw one, but the word bullying did not exist.

All through grade school and high school, I never saw a physical fight, nor even a verbal altercation.  Everyone got along with everyone else and there was never any name calling or verbal abuse, much less knife fights or pounding with fists. There were no “mean girls,” no gangs, and no one carried a gun to school; mass murder, as at Columbine, was far, far in the future.

What was the reason for this  school paradise?  In a word: diversity.  There was a complete lack of diversity.  Everyone in my school was of the same race and the same ethnicity.  I lived in a town where the people were more than 50% German-American.  The word diversity, as used today, was unknown.

Children reading in a classroom in 1940

In the 1940s, little boys typically wore overalls, or corduroy pants with suspenders, to school.  Little girls always wore dresses, never pants or shorts, in the classroom. Note the complete lack of diversity in the classroom.

Before I went to college, I had never seen anyone who was of Greek or Italian or French ethnicity, and certainly not anyone who was Asian or Hispanic. Even in my college classes, there were no Asians or Hispanics or African Americans. There were some Jews, but they had their own sororities and fraternities; they didn’t mix with the other students.

At school dances, when I went to college, there was always an intermission when all the students faced the Confederate flag, and with our hands over our hearts, we sang “Dixie.”  I kid you not. My college was in a part of Missouri known as “Little Dixie.”  Frat houses flew the Confederate flag.  Bullying was unknown on our segregated campus.

Many parts of Missouri, where I lived, were still segregated back then, including my home town.  African Americans were allowed to live in the town, but they had their own schools and churches.  Other nearby towns were “sundown” towns where a sign warned African Americans not to let the sun set on them in this town.

One time, a teacher in my high school assigned everyone to write a paper about their “nationality.” Back then, nationality was the term for ethnicity.  When asked “What is your nationality?” no one ever said “American.”  Our nationality was the country from which our ancestors had come to America.  In my school, there were only three possible answers: Germany, England or Ireland.

We didn’t need to have a Holocaust survivor to come to our school to teach us how to be tolerant and to stand up to bullies. Every kid in my school was already tolerant.  We had one student with a wooden leg, one retarded student who didn’t graduate until the age of twenty, and we even had one cretin.  No one made fun of these students or taunted them.  There were fat kids and skinny kids, but no one was rude enough to mention another student’s weight.

Staged photo of boy dipping little girl's pigtail in ink

In my grade school, the desks had ink wells, but no little boy would ever dream of dipping a little girl’s pigtail into the ink.  Every student at my school had a fountain pen, and at recess, our favorite activity was trading fountain pens.  Every day, my classmates and I would have a different fountain pen. That was the kind of amusement we had.  The photo above was obviously staged.

When I went to the home of one of my classmates for supper, I always knew that the food would be exactly like what we had at home.  Everyone in my town dressed the same, listened to the same kind of music, and attended a Christian church. Everyone had the same values and the same morals.

Race was something that we studied in our geography books. Everybody was a racist, but back then, it was considered normal thinking.  Political correctness was unknown, except at Columbia University, where it was called “cultural Marxism.”  The concept of political correctness was brought over from Germany by Jewish professors who were kicked out when Hitler came to power in 1933.

Yes, yes, I know that nationalism and racism are bad, and political correctness and  diversity are good.  Diversity is what makes America great. America is a melting pot and that explains why America is the greatest country in the world.  Without diversity, America would be like Nazi Germany: We would have Gleichschaltung* with everyone thinking and acting alike. Before you know it, we would have a Holocaust in America.  Diversity is what keeps America divided and safe from the unthinkable.

* Gleichschaltung is a German word coined by Hitler.  It is too complicated for me to explain it to you, so google it yourself.