The theme during Chapel services this week was Holocaust Remembrance, a mournful and serious topic.
Sunday was the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of the Auschwitz concentration camp operated in Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. This day is recognized around the world as Holocaust Remembrance Day and Dave Stewart, Coordinator of Student Engagement and Wellness, spoke about it throughout the week.
“We must continue to tell the stories of the Holocaust with the hope that one day, genocide will not be an option for those filled with hatred and intolerance,” Mr. Stewart said in his introduction to the week.
On Monday for the Middle School, Mr. Stewart talked about The Righteous Gentiles, those who saved the lives of Jews during the Second World War. Some examples are Raoul Wallenberg, Father Trocme from Le Chambon, France, and, of course, Oskar Schindler.
On Tuesday for the grade 9 and 10 boys, he focused on stories from the Holocaust, particularly of young people like Eva Heyman, a 13-year-old girl who left a riveting diary about her time in the ghetto, which was discovered after the war. Eva and her family perished at Auschwitz in 1944. Mr. Stewart also relayed the story of Yitskhok Rudashevski, a young boy of 14 from the Vilna Ghetto. His family was discovered hiding during the clearing of the ghetto and executed.
On Thursday, the senior boys watched part of an episode of Band of Brothers, an acclaimed television mini-series about United States soldiers and their mission in Europe during the Second World War. The scene shown was about the liberation of a concentration camp. It was
graphic and shocking, but Mr. Stewart said many young people do not know about Auschwitz.
“This is not something we should ever forget,” he told the boys. “The rallying cry after the war was ‘Never Again.’”
However, he added, there have been horrific examples of genocide that have happened since: “Where there is hatred and intolerance, genocide can happen.”
Mr. Stewart urged the boys to be informed and know that the Holocaust and other genocides have occurred. He said even though as individuals we can’t stop hate, we can stand up against intolerance on every level, including that based on race, gender, and sexual identity.
Story by Julie Caspersen