The 27th Annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust was held at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center on May 5th and 6th. Staff and board members from JFS both attended and took part in the event which uses first hand accounts as Survivors tell students the horrors of the Holocaust. JFS Board President Susan Connors, acting as Master of Ceremonies, welcomed hundreds of students from area schools and introduced the film Children Remember the Holocaust which tells the gripping truths of how the Holocaust changed and took the lives and childhoods of Jewish Children between 1933 and 1945, up to one and a half million children were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during that time.
Alan Moskin, Former Staff Sergeant in the 66th Infantry in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, was a Liberator and told his story which at times was hard to listen to as he told of the horrors he faced and witnessed. Mr. Moskin warned the students and attendees ahead of time he would not pull any punches, but it was in the details of what he lived that truly allowed one to understand what was inflicted in those who lived in the camps. It wasn’t until 1995, 50 years later that Mr. Moskin would even speak to anyone about what he saw.
Over 14 Holocaust survivors spoke to students in breakout sessions, our very own Maggy Bushwick facilitated the session with survivor Sol Lurie. Sol’s message to the kids is that he did not hate all Germans, hating all Germans would not have made him any better of a person; we should not hate. Sol was a child of the Holocaust but went on to fight for the country he loved, “I am proud to be an American”. He left the kids with one big request, “Go home and hug your mothers and fathers, tell them you love them, you only get one mother and one father”.
The day ended with the 50 minute play Lida Stein and the Righteous Gentile, a play that follows ordinary people from ordinary families caught up in the extraordinary political and social upheaval of the Nazi era, focusing on the relationship between Lida Stein, a Jewish teenage girl, and her best friend Dora Krause, a German teenage girl.
For some students what they heard or saw at the symposium will sink in right away, for many it will take time for them to understand what they learned. One thing is for certain, many films and documentaries have been made about the Holocaust but hearing the stories directly from a person, a human being no different than you, standing in front of you has an impact that no film or book can ever give you. Most of the students also do not realize they are the last generation of students that will likely hear of these first had accounts of the Holocaust as many survivors pass on. With that it will be their responsibility to understand what the past has taught us in order to not repeat it in the future.
You can read more about the event from local coverage by the Scranton Times Tribune – Local students hear of Holocaust horrors at annual symposium