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December 08, 1995 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-12-08

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

man Face.


Erika Turner's
suitcase makes
the unthinkable

■ • ...... .



• . ...

"The whole point of this class is to recog-
nize how you can prevent becoming not just
a victim, but also a perpetrator," Ms. Bru-
ton said.
Because the course falls under the English,
rather than history, department, the students
are graded on the quality of their own essays,
not the specifics of Nazi atrocities.
"I don't teach facts. I don't give objective
tests. I find I don't have to ask them to mem-
orize terms," Ms. Bruton said. She doesn't have
to. "The short stories, poetry and plays are far
more powerful than any historical text could be." L--\
But literature itself, no matter how moving,
cannot tell the full story of the Holocaust.
"Memory without history is without context,"
said Dr. Hank Greenspan, an expert on Holocaust
survivors and lecturer at the University of Michi-
gan. "If you read Elie Wiesel's Night, it's a mov-
ing experience. But if you don't know the
difference between 1944 Hungary and 1942
Poland, you don't really have the context. Both C \
history and memory are important."
Ms. Bruton agrees, so she supplements the per-

Groves High School
students explore the literatur e
behind the atrocities.

ne by one, the students in Lindy Bru-
ton's literature course walked to the
front of the class and reflected on the
searing memoirs of Holocaust sur-
"How do you have hope?" one
Groves High School student asked af-
ter reading author Primo Levi's rec-
ollections of Auschwitz. "How do you
even start to think you'll get out
its literature, Ms. Bruton has forced her class to
confront the complicated decisions faced by many
Another student pondered a family's es- victims.
cape from the Warsaw Ghetto, and the fa-
"When the course started, I wondered why there
d' ther's pleas to his children to conceal their wasn't more resistance," said Rob Brenner, 18, of
Jewishness. The story clearly perplexed the Beverly Hills. "I've found it would have been a lot
student. What was more important, she wondered, harder than I had thought it was. I've learned about
asserting pride in your religion or disguising your the psychological tactics Hitler used on the Jews."
faith to avoid persecution?
The class, one of a handful of Holocaust cours-
"These people knew they were Jewish," the stu- es in Detroit-area public schools, is not limited to
dent said. "But they couldn't deny themselves their survivor memoirs.
lives just to stand up for their religion."
Students read the words of soldiers who liber-
The ambiguity in the students' voices clearly ated the death camps, citizens who stood by and
pleased Ms. Bruton, who has taught the course for did nothing, and even of Nazis involved in Hitler's
three years. By approaching the Holocaust through Final Solution.

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