Holocaust survivor shares her story, teacher carries on legacy of remembrance.

- January 27th marks the anniversary of the liberation of the World War Two concentration camp Auschwitz.

One night ahead of this historic date, a Texas teacher is making sure local students and families never forget what happened by hosting a special event.

Among the headlining acts was a Houston woman, who softly told a story.

"We had to get on the rickety old bus and we were taken to a castle where we were hidden," recalls Ruth Steinfeld, "and they kept their promise. We survived. We were always a step ahead of the Nazis."

What sounds like a Hollywood film is the real life story of Steinfeld, who was rescued at age 7 with her sister from a French concentration camp in WWII.

On Friday, she shared her story with hundreds of Sugarland students and families thanks to Clements High School teacher Michael Madden.

"Never has it been more relevant, the lessons of the holocaust," said Madden, standing in a hallway covered in posters and art recounting tales from one of humanities darkest hours.

Michael Madden started the Hall of Remembrance project at Clements High School ten years ago.

"It was inspired by Hannah Pick, a childhood friend of Anne Frank's, and a Holocaust survivor," explained Madden. "I met her while I was in Israel and she shook my hand after she spoke. I was pretty emotional, and she said 'you are now an ambassador to my life and my story.'"

And so every year, with paper and tape, the walls of one Clements High School hallway transform – stories of survival, statistics on the lives lost, and details on the acts committed at the many concentration camps guide visitors through a journey to remember the acts of the Holocaust. Each element built by students, past and present. Their work is the second headline attracting community members both young and old.

Each year, Madden invites Holocaust survivors like Steinfeld to share their stories. Students watch a short film illustrating the events of the past.

"For people to see those pictures, you couldn't make them up," says Steinfeld. She adds she is touched by the deep thought and hard work students put into the project each year.

The Hall of Remembrance is not a requirement of Madden's job. Standing beside his own children and surrounded by students, he fought back tears Friday explaining why he puts forth the effort year after year.

"Because of people like Ruth. Because of these kiddos right here..." Madden pauses to kiss his daughter on the head. "They just need to learn," he concludes.

The exhibit will remain up in the halls of Clements High School for some time to allow students opportunity to visit and reflect on the stories the walls now tell.

In an age where he feels media can desensitize young minds to violence, Madden says he is consistently touched by the empathy his students display in creating the Hall of Remembrance.


 

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