THS hosts Holocaust exhibit

Published 5:34 pm Monday, April 16, 2018

April 13 was a day of both remembrance and education at Thorsby High School.

The school held an exhibit in the elementary gym as part of its inaugural Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Students presented exhibits that were loaned to THS by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

“I’m not Jewish, but I can see what they had to go through and how sad it is,” said Thorsby eighth grader Jack Fitch, one of the presenters. “It should never happen again.”

Rachel Hartsell teaches the Holocaust as part of her curriculum at Thorsby. She was instrumental in helping bring the exhibit to the school.

“It’s been a really in-depth learning experience, not just for the presenters, but also for the students walking up,” Hartsell said.

Classes spanning multiple grades took tours of the exhibit throughout the day. Elementary classes were given a scavenger hunt to follow.

“I think that students teaching students provides a really unique learning opportunity,” Hartsell said. “It’s an opportunity for them to retain more information and hear it from a different perspective.”

THS students presented the Holocaust exhibits to their fellow classmates. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Each exhibit focused on someone with ties to Alabama.

A ceremony was held in the gym with Dr. Robert May as the guest speaker. He was born in Camberg, Germany and talked about life growing up in a country that was quickly being consumed by an anti-Semitic culture.

“I think they [students] were very attentive and related to what I had to say,” May said. “I hope they take it home and discuss it with their parents. This should be a dinner conversation tonight.”

According to May, he has read that two-thirds of millennials are not aware of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“That’s frightening,” May said. “That is why I’m here.”

Holocaust survivors refrained from speaking about the events for many years. However, there has been a change and willingness to open up from survivors over the past 20 years.

“We did not feel the pressure to relive this thing until the deniers came and forced us to speak up,” May said. “It is painful to remember and painful to talk about. It is not without scaring that we talk, but it is necessary that we talk to disseminate the truth of what really happened.”