Teens make documentary about Auschwitz visit
Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News
Bloomington - A Hoosier Holocaust survivor recently led a group of teenagers and local filmmakers to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.
The Bloomington students are producing documentaries about their experience with Eva Moses Kor. It's a lesson they couldn't learn from a book and one they will never forget.
Students from Bloomington's Batchelor Middle School's B-TV program became witnesses to the history and the horror of the Holocaust.
"You have to go there to see it," said 8th grader Shane Spicer.
"It was a really emotional experience," added 8th grader Avery Walter-Bailey.
"It felt real," said 7th grader Lincoln Ellington. "The hair and the poison and the shoes and the doll toys...it changed me a lot."
With Holocaust survivor Eva Moses Kor as their guide, the students, with camera and video equipment in tow, visited Poland for the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
They toured the concentration camp where Kor was held as a child, held a candelight ceremony in the crematorium, and saw firsthand where so many, like Eva's family, suffered and died.
Even having studied the Holocaust, the students say they weren't prepared for the stark reality of being there in person.
"When I walked through the main gates at Auschwitz to Birkenau, that's when I felt this is real," Spicer said.
"The first day we came up there and you see it and it's just massive. You see walls all around, barracks everywhere and you think how big it was and how many people used to be there. It was really...pretty powerful," Walter-Bailey said.
They say it was also profoundly personal, especially hearing Kor's stories of surviving the concentration camp, losing her family, and yet forgiving the Nazis.
Students say they took her inspiration to heart.
"You would think that a Holocaust survivor would not forgive, but she forgave Dr. Mengele and all the Nazis. She's very strong and one of her main lessons is forgiveness," said 7th grader Lincoln Ellington.
To capture that message, the students are creating documentaries about their experience, all shot, produced and edited by the students themselves.
"What they want to bring through in their documentaries are the lessons that Eva teaches, not just what happened in the Holocaust, but what can we learn from the Holocaust," said B-TV teacher Jeff Rudkin.
"Because I got the privilege to see what happened and what they were put through so I have to make sure it never happens again," Spicer said.
The profound lesson from young journalists: Make sure people remember to never forget.