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November 27, 1992 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-11-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Life
Unworthy Of
Life

Mainstream Holocaust
curriculum teaches
secular classrooms
more about the
bureaucracy behind
r the Final Solution.

°

A

DAVID KOTZEN-REICH

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

lmost a half a century ago,
during five-and-a-half years
inside Nazi labor and
concentration camps, Nate
Garfinkel, a Polish Jew,
made a pact with several
friends.
"The verbal agreement
was that if anyone survived,
he would reveal what took
place," said Mr. Garfinkel,
now 70 years old and a resi-
dent of Southfield.
Garfinkel reaffirmed his
commitment to his friends
and the other six million
Jewish victims of the Holo-
caust, as he has at every
chance, when he shared his
experiences with students
at Ferndale High School.
"I don't speak to you from
anger, or for vengeance," Mr.
Garfinkel told Barb Dem-
low's Holocaust literature
class. The students re-
mained absolutely still. "I
speak from awareness of
what took place. For these
people I speak. And for
those who say it didn't
happen."
After he finished telling

Below,
Dr. Sidney
Bolkosky,
one of the
curriculum
authors.

his story of constant brutal
beatings by Nazi guards,
forced 'hunger, and close
brushes with selection for
death, one female student
asked Mr. Garfinkel what
happened to two sisters.
"Treblinka," he said with
a trembling voice. And after
a long silence, he said, "No
one survived from there."
Like Mr. Garfinkel's story,
the personal testimony of 16
other survivors currently
living in the Detroit area is
one of the special qualities
of Life Unworthy of Life, a
locally produced high school
curriculum on the Holo-
caust first published in
1987.
A 62-minute video that ac-
companies the lessons
traces the very personal ex-
periences of six survivors, as
they speak directly to the
camera and tell their stories
of life before, during and
after Auschwitz.
"The first thing we saw
(emerging from the boxcars)
were the shooting flames
out of a tower-like struc-

ture," says Sharri
Weiss, of Southfield.
"Needless to say it
was the most fright-
ening thing I did ever
see. I was 15, and my
imagination ran
wild."
The unfathomable,
always complex emo-
tion-laden nature of
the Holocaust does
not lend itself easily
to instruction. But
Sidney Bolkosky, the
University of Michi-
gan-Dearborn pro-
fessor of Holocaust
history who wrote
the text for Life, and
his colleagues on the
project have managed
to provide a thought-
provoking teaching
vehicle that does not
simplify it.
Besides Ferndale High
School and many Oakland
County schools, school
districts and educators in
over 30 states and 12 foreign
countries have purchased
Life. The curriculum was ap-

CS,
CD

,

proved by the Department of
Education as an exemplary
curriculum and accepted
into its national distribu-
tion network.
Acceptance into the Na-
tional Diffusion Network
has elevated its national
status and accelerated its

CC
uJ
021

2

LIJ

29

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