2017-02-18 / The Rock

PHS teachers attend Holocaust workshop

By Sarah Boone and Paige Mangum

Pictured with Holocaust survivor, Alfred Schnog, are PHS English II teachers, Morgan Meyer, Allison Dacus, and Rachel Lewis Pictured with Holocaust survivor, Alfred Schnog, are PHS English II teachers, Morgan Meyer, Allison Dacus, and Rachel Lewis On Thursday Feb. 2, Person High School English teachers, Allison Dacus, Rachel Lewis, and Morgan Meyer, traveled to Wilmington to attend a workshop sponsored by the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust in connection with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The day began with UNC-Wilmington history professor, Dr. Jarrod Tanny, giving two presentations — The Holocaust: From the Rise of Nazism to the end of World War II and Major Groups in the Holocaust: Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders, Resisters, and Rescuers.

Karen Klaich, a retired North Carolina educator and a Teaching Fellow of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, presented on best practices in the classroom when teaching the Holocaust.

All workshop participants received a teacher’s resource book with Holocaust related lesson plans for use in the classroom.

Dacus said, “Though I attended the workshop several years ago at PCC in Roxboro, the Wilmington workshop hosted different presenters, so I learned even more about the Holocaust that I did not know before.”

Lewis said, “There was a lot of information that I did not know beforehand.”

Meyer said, “I thoroughly enjoyed all of it but hearing from someone who lived during that time was definitely something new to me. Hearing his personal story and journey through the Holocaust was definitely my favorite part.” A Survivor’s Story The final presentation of the day came from Holocaust survivor, Alfred Schnog, who shared his family’s story of bravery and resistance in their hometown of Cologne, Germany, and later other areas of Europe.

At the age of five, Schnog’s family, German Jews, began living in fear because “the Gestapo had taken hold,” and they began seeing signs posted in businesses and public areas that warned Jews were not welcome.

“We learned if they were going to live in Germany, we would have to live an undercover life,” said Schnog. He remembers seeing Nazi Youth parades from the window of his home, wanting to go out with his twin brother to enjoy the parades but his parents would not allow it. He also remembers he and his brother wanting to visit the nearby medieval castles along the Rhine River, an outing that his parents reluctantly gave in to taking.

Schnog’s parents warned the boys, “Don’t say you are Jewish. Do not go to the latrines because they will see you are circumcised.”

One day, Schnog’s family was traveling across a bridge on the Rhine River when his father stopped the car, took out a gun, took the gun apart, and threw the pieces over the bridge into the river. The Nazis had ordered Jews to hand over any weapons they owned. Getting rid of the gun was an act of resistance by Schnog’s father. His father did not want his gun to be used against others by the Nazis.

Schnog was nine when his family made the decision to leave Germany and go to Holland. Prior to boarding a train to Holland, they spent the night in a hotel. Peering through a curtain from the hotel window, Schnog and his family watched Nazi youth breaking shop windows and throwing things in the street. That evening became known as the Night of the Broken Glass, Kristallnacht.

A family friend met Schnog and his family at the border as Hitler was in process of closing them. They got an apartment in Holland. When they were given the opportunity by the U.S. Embassy to go to the United States, they made the decision to go.

They left Holland for London near the end of 1939 where they waited until March 1940 to travel from Liverpool to New York aboard the Britannica. The ship zig-zagged across the Atlantic due to possible submarine attacks and sailed into New York in April.

Schnog’s grandparents, who had urged his family to leave Germany and warned of the German borders closing, died in the gas chamber at the nazi extermination camp, Sobibor, in Poland.

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