The nearly 50 seventh graders of surprised their teachers by remaining in pin-drop silence in the library for more than an hour.
Their guest speaker Wednesday morning was local Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone, now 88, who was a little bit older than the crowd when she was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp and came face-to-face with “The Angel of Death,” Dr. Josef Mengele.
“I was just a little older than you when I found myself alone in the world and didn’t know how I would spend the rest of my life,” said Firestone, who lost her parents, younger sister, all her school friends and all her neighbors in the camp.
In meticulous detail, she talked about growing up in a big beautiful house in Czechoslovakia where her Jewish father had a thriving business. She recalled how Adolf Hitler reminded her of Charlie Chaplin, and how her rights were taken away, her house, her father’s business and even her country (which was changed to Hungary) were all taken from her.
Firestone told her story in a few documentaries, such as The Last Days, Swimming in Auschwitz, and Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank. She needs to tell it more.
“I thought maybe humanity would learn from this experience, maybe the world would change, maybe there would be peace in the world,” she sighed. “I was pretty wrong.”
See video footage of parts of her story above, and a series of photos when she spoke at Walter Reed.