Nazi Germany and the Holocaust students grapple with tough questions

By Ada Skillern
Ada Skillern
Ada Skillern

Our Nazi Germany and the Holocaust class has spent the final two days of study presenting numerous culminating projects that reflect their grappling with one of the darkest chapters in human history. The mural, a six by eight feet canvas, features Anne Frank, author of The Diary of a Young Girl, the most widely read book on the Holocaust. The background features a faint image of her actual writing, as well as several quotes. We would like to thank an alumna of the class and current counselor, Meredith Bickett, for volunteering her talents to render Anne Frank’s face for our mural. The second project is a four-actor, 30-minute play, portraying Anne Frank and three friends’ ghosts. Their performances, depicting their experiences as teenagers in a concentration camp, were truly moving and extraordinary. Our final project is the trial of Hitler, which assumes that Hitler survived the war and is placed on trial. Because there is not a single document of Hitler ordering genocide or the Holocaust, the prosecution is tasked with connecting the dots to prove him guilty, while the defense takes the approach that Hitler’s subordinates committed the atrocities without his knowledge, in a treasonous attempt to betray him and seize power, all under cover of the fog of war.

This year’s group has done a remarkable job of wrestling with the causes of the Holocaust, the extraordinary evil and heroism human beings are capable of, and discussing how their knowledge of this chapter in history can guide us to be more peaceful and just in the present and future. It has been a joy to teach them.