Holocaust survivor, Esther Lederman, spoke to seventh grade students at Clayton Middle School on March 11th. As a teenager, Lederman ran away from a Polish ghetto in search of her friend, Ezjel Lederman, who was in hiding with his family during the Holocaust. She stayed in hiding for 22 months, evading the harsh punishment of the Nazis.
Lederman shared her story with seventh graders who are studying the Holocaust.
“Many students enjoyed hearing her speak. They were fascinated with the story of her life and how she survived the Holocaust,” stated Jackie Jones, a seventh grade Social Studies teacher at Clayton Middle, who organized the assembly.
Lederman’s story was more personal and relatable to students and students enjoyed the variation that her talk provided.
“It was nice to have an up close and personal presentation instead of reading about it in a history book. We actually had someone to talk to about it,” said seventh grader Taylor Allen.
Students felt that speaker was more interesting than studying about the Holocaust in the classroom.
“More people paid attention when she came rather than just reading it out of the book. When people read out of the book, they don’t really care,” stated seventh grader, Jessica Smith.
Teachers agreed that the speaker gave students a deeper understanding of the content they studied in the classroom.
“[Lederman] is a real life person who actually experienced all of the harshness and cruelty of the Holocaust and came out alive. This experience allowed students to see firsthand how to survive it and the outcome,” stated Jones.
Lederman’s speech gave students a personalized account of life outside of the Nazi controlled concentration camps.
“I learned that it wasn’t only hard for people in the concentration camps, but it was hard for the people outside of the camps to make a living too,” stated Sidney Buss, a seventh grader.
Students benefited from hearing about what life was like during World War II.
“[Lederman] stayed in a home and was in hiding instead of actually going to a[concentration] camp. I would expect her to be in a [concentration] camp because when I think of the holocaust I think of people going to [concentration] camps,” Allen said.
Social Studies teachers wanted students to gain a more rounded understanding of the Holocaust.
“[We wanted students to] have a better understanding of what discriminated groups went through during the holocaust and how some people were able to survive all this cruelty,” stated Jones.
Students had a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with a Holocaust survivor when Lederman answered questions after her speech.
“I liked when she came to the classroom to answer our own personal questions. It was a lot more fun than having to read about it out of a book,” stated Buss.
Lederman is a part of The North Carolina Holocaust Council.