YC hosts first seminar on the Holocaust
by Andrea Rice - Panther Press
The conference opened with an overview of the history on the Holocaust. This information was shared by Mark Gudgel who teaches Literature of the Holocaust at Lincoln Southwest High School and Sandy Renkin, a 7-12 social studies teacher at Freeman Public Schools in Adams, NE.
They began with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 to give some background and continued with specific events that led to the oppression and death of many in the Holocaust. They finished with the end of World War II, the Nuremburg Trials in November 1945, and finally the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989.
The next presenter was Christina Chavarria who is from Washington, DC. She is employed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to coordinate professional development programs for educators around the nation. Mrs. Chavarria explained ten essential guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust and then later shared more about guidelines for teaching about genocide.
Beth Seldin Dotan, the Executive Director of The Institute for Holocaust Education (housed in the ADL office in Omaha, NE) clarified Judaism and the Jewish culture. Jews have been misunderstood, and this has created myths and tales. Beth's knowledge and experience with Judaism and the Jewish culture, helped give everyone a better understanding of the Jewish religion and their culture.
For the afternoon there were two break-out sessions where participants could choose from different, but more specific, subject matters. Then the conference was concluded at the East Hill Church of Christ where many listened to a Holocaust survivor's story.
Dr. Louis Leviticus (Lou) made his second visit to the York College campus to share his experiences during the Holocaust. Lou was born July 4, 1931 in the Netherlands and was an only child. In 1940, when Lou was 9 years old, the Netherlands were invaded by Germany and the Jews were faced with new laws and restrictions. They didn't even have protection from the authorities and received no justice. One unjust incident was when a neighbor boy pushed him into the window of a book store. The glass broke, and he fell in getting a large gash on his forehead. The police came and made Lou and his father pay for the damages and the ambulance that came to get him.
Later, for reasons unknown to him, Lou and his family went to the third floor of an apartment building for hiding. They were fed once per day while living in this small room where they couldn't even look out the window.
On November 1, 1942 at three o'clock in the afternoon the bell rings downstairs, the door was forced open, there was running up the stairs and then they heard "Police, stay where you are." Young Lou froze. Words from his father pulled him from this state and he ran to the porch doors, flung them open and jumped up on the railing. Looking over his shoulder he sees his father pull the doors closed and sadly that was the last time he saw his father and mother; they were taken to Auschwitz, Nazi death camp, and died there.
Lou ended his story and then answered questions from the audience. He made the unforgettable comment, "If the Holocaust never happened, then the earth is still flat." Lou has also written a book under the alias of Ben Wajikra called "Tales form the Milestone," which goes into more depth, but hearing his story in person was much more touching.