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Academic Vision

World Holocaust Remembrance Day at Derryfield

Elaine Loft
On a special January 24 Community Meeting, Derryfield observed World Holocaust Remembrance Day. The guest speaker was Eva Berger, the grandmother of a seventh-grade student and the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Berger was born in the Czech Republic and came to the United States via Israel at the age of 6. She was invited by the American Jewish Heritage Museum in Manhattan to produce the story of her mother, Pauline Klein. Berger’s presentation was a combination of narrated history, archival photos, and selected clips from her mother’s three-hour testimony for the USC Shoah Foundation. 

Before WWII, Paula Klein, one of five children, lived with her parents in Munkacs, Czechoslovakia. In her testimony, Klein told the story of the German invasion of Munkacs, first being relocated to the Jewish ghetto, then to a brick factory, and eventually, by boxcar, to Auschwitz. After being separated from her father and two younger brothers, Klein’s odyssey included being sent to a labor camp, a six-week “death march” to Bergen-Belsen, a bout of typhus, and being seriously wounded by shrapnel during the final days of the war. Rescued by a Russian farmworker, she was sent to a British war hospital to recuperate. Three months later, although still walking with a cane and weakened by disease and malnutrition, she was able to return to Munkacs, where she was reunited with her mother and her older brother.

At the end of her interview, Klein offered her thoughts. “For so many years you block it out, then suddenly everyone says it is important to talk about. Of course, it is! Because there are so many who say it didn’t happen, you have to prove that it did happen and you have to be sure it doesn’t happen again. Because it is happening again all over the world.”

“I just want to say to be good to each other, and love each other, and try and make sure this never happens again. Because when people are mean, that’s when it happens. Just try to understand each other.”

Eva Berger then extolled, “The Holocaust didn’t start with Hitler’s final solution, it didn’t start with the death camps, it started with words…anti-Semitism and all kinds of hate, it’s a virus. It’s a virus that’s more contagious than Covid, and it spreads just as rapidly, and it grows when good people stay silent. May we all learn the lessons of history and not stay silent.”


The Derryfield School

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