At the Great Homeschool Convention in Ontario, CA in June, there were many amazing vendors terrific people and devoted parents. Good thing I like talking because that's just what I did with quite a few of them, but it was Inge Auerbacher who really got me thinking. You see, she was seven years old in 1942 when she and her family were taken to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia because they were Jewish. They spent three horrible years there, always fearful that they would be sent to die as so many others had been.
I bought both of the books she had brought to the convention, I am a Star and Beyond the Yellow Star to America and just had a couple of moments to speak with her. She's the sort of person you instantly like.
I am a Star tells the story of her family and their survival when so many others perished. It's told from a child's perspective, and my 10-year olds can read it because it is not graphic in detail, but tells the story in a way that kids can understand. The book mixes Inge's autobiography with historical facts, photographs of people and places, and illustrations. Poems help to tell the story and illuminate the physical and emotional torment they endured.
Kids from about ages 9 to 12 should be able to read it, and it's a great addition to any study of WWII history regardless of your age.
Beyond the Yellow Star to America tells about after the war and how they rebuilt their lives, first in Germany and then their move to America. Teens can connect to her story and understand what it was like for her family after they moved to a new country to begin again. She tells about her experience being hospitalized due to tuberculosis and how difficult the adjustment was for her and her parents. It's age appropriate for high school students and advanced middle school-aged kids.
With our own Independence Day tomorrow, we need to remember that not every country has their freedoms set into the law of the land as we do. The political winds currently blowing through the country are disturbing and come with a loss of freedom for some, while others profit. The patterns we are seeing in America follow that of other countries that have gone to very dark and deadly places. Is this what we want?
The hatred taught by the Nazis and expressed in the Holocaust is one of those things that should never be forgotten, and yet many these days seem to try to pretend it didn't happen. The story of the holocaust needs to be told, and told regularly. It's a black spot on the history of the world, and we must remember, if only to protect the future.
When Hitler attacked the Jews
I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,
I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church --
and there was nobody left to be concerned."
Martin Niemoller, in a speech before Congress on October 14, 1968