SMA Prep cadets visited the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg as part of their Holocaust Survivor Literature unit in SMA-MAJ Carol Peletier’s 8th grade IB MYP Language and Literature course. This was a moving and engaging experience for these cadets because they had taken the time throughout the unit to dig deeper into the true impact this horrific event left on the world and those who survived the nightmare.
Cadets were privileged to listen to the story of a survivor which becomes even more valuable when considering the rarity of a 1st person account of something that occurred 80 years ago. In short, many still alive to tell the story experienced it as children. This was the case for Mr. Ed Herman, who was just 11 years old when he was moved into the Warsaw Ghetto with his mother and sister in October of 1940. It was from there his harrowing journey began which he recounts on PBS’ Frontline in Never Forget to Lie. Read his story at this link: My Warsaw Ghetto Memories.
The museum curation was chronological and showed the full history of antisemitism dating back to ancient empires and explained how more intense propaganda developed overtime sustaining the harmful stereotypes and tropes that still exist today. there were examples of upstanders as well who risked their own lives to save the lives of Jews who would have been otherwise murdered in the camps.
Cadets shared reflections on their experience at the museum below:
“The museum was very emotionally draining. It is sad to know that such a horrible event happened not that long ago.”
“We also got to see an old cattle car that transported Jews to the camps. Just knowing that people had died in that car or were driven to their deaths blew my mind.”
“I learned about how Mr. Herman traveled throughout Europe as an 11 year old boy alone. When he told us to imagine being in another country all alone at that age it really got to me and I could feel like he felt at that moment.”
The field trip also offered an opportunity for cadets to bond and relax with each other eating lunch and playing games in a waterfront park close to the museum. Cadets mentioned they would gladly go on a field trip like this again.