Learning about the Holocaust in the classroom has a much different viewpoint than hearing a real life story from a survivor.
Audrey Otwell, a senior at Marian and the leader of Project Welcome introduced Michael Krausman, the son of the Holocaust survivor, on March 27 to the students gathered in the Performing Arts Center during Block B.
Otwell said, “I know that he is a very educated man who is both funny (he joked a lot before the talk he gave) and very passionate about personalizing the experiences that his father had.”
Krausman told his dad’s story. Otwell thought it was fascinating to hear the story from a “second-generation speaker to personalize his and his father’s story for us.”
Students and teachers in the audience dove deeper into the story by watching an interview of Henry Krausman and listening to the inhumane treatment he received from age 13 to 19.
“He made some very good points during his presentation that the entire school should have heard,” freshman Niamh Corrigan said.
Unfortunately not everyone could attend the presentation coordinated by Mrs. Katy Salzman, chair of the social studies department.
Henry Krausman was born in 1927 in Zawercie, Poland. There, he grew up with 6,000 other Jewish families in a small community. In 1942, Krausman was taken to work at a camp in Germany.
“My favorite part of the story was when the Nazis shaved his head. Getting your head shaved seems harmless, but these men had to deal with infected scabs and painful wounds on top of being starved, outworked, and living in extremely unsanitary conditions,” Corrigan said.
Mrs. Alee Cotton took her senior literature class to Krausman’s presentation for their service learning project. She also gave insight to the effects of hearing about the shaving of the heads left with her. Cotton said, “The way he describes getting his hair shaved and then having it shaved again when the sores were not healed yet; I have never heard anything like that before.”
The commentary that Michael Krausman explained about his father’s life was raw and spoke deeply to the students and teachers, as well.
At one point in the story, Michael Krausman explained that his dad was actually sent to the gas chambers. These chambers were meant to kill hundreds of people, but the day Krausman was in it, they didn’t work. This story hit freshman Meg Raabe in her heart.
“It made me realize how lucky we are and how God is watching out for us. If the gas was released into the chamber, we wouldn’t have been in that auditorium hearing the presentation,” Raabe said. She, along with everyone listening, was amazed by Krausman’s strength and perserverance.
Tessa Olson, a freshman who is Jewish said, “God willing, I’ll never have to go through anything like the Holocaust, though that doesn’t mean it never happened. Through those who tell their stories to me, I am able to gain an understanding of those feelings, events, and horrors these people had gone through, and it makes a difference. I look at people like Michael Krausman and Henry Krausman with respect, and after everything in their lives, it is that huge amount of respect that they rightfully deserve to have.”
She feels very strongly about the effects that the Krausmans have been left with and for the many other survivors as well. Olson is thankful for those who served in the Holocaust so that she does not have to. She stands strong with her faith and has a passion to talk about her background. Olson, along with her family, participates in Jewish holidays such as Passover, Tisha B’av, Purim and Hanukkah. She belongs to a Jewish Temple and the JCC. She takes part in events like Bea Karp’s and said, “It’s just so incredible how much culture is so alive after that, and it just makes me want to keep learning more and more.”
The amazing life story that students and staff of Marian heard about the Krausmans left an indelible mark on everyone’s hearts and taught the students and teachers of what a real hero is like.