History in the flesh

Jewish immigrant from Nazi Germany to speak at high school


If you go

• What: Presentation by Susan Warsinger, World War II Jewish immigrant from Nazi Germany

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday

• Where: Moffat County High School auditorium, 900 Finley Lane

• Cost: Free

• For more information, call 824-7036

— Eric Hansen was 14 years old when a Holocaust survivor gave a presentation at his high school, he said.

The occasion left an impression on Hansen, now a Moffat County High School world history and economics teacher.

"It was one of the things that inspired me to become a history teacher," he said.

Hansen and other teachers in the high school Social Studies Department hope to give students a similar experience this week.

Susan Warsinger, a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum survivor volunteer, will make a presentation to high school students at 2 p.m. today at Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane.

A free community presentation will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the high school auditorium.

Warsinger's visit ties in with a unit about World War II and Holocaust history taught in the high school's world history classes, Hansen said.

Warsinger, who was born in 1929, experienced that history first hand as a young Jewish girl living in Nazi Germany. She and other Jewish children were forced out of public school, according to Warsinger's biography on the Memorial Museum's Web site.

In 1938, when Warsinger was 9 years old, Nazi officials vandalized her family's home during what would later be known in history as "the night of broken glass," the Web site reported.

Warsinger and her brother, Joseph, made their way to France in the following months. With support from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the two moved to America in 1941 where they were reunited with their parents and younger brother.

Jeanne Olson, Memorial Museum Survivor Affairs/Speakers Bureau representative and Warsinger's liaison, was unavailable for comment.

Warsinger's presentation can give students the first-hand exposure to history that they can't find in a textbook, Hansen said.

"We hope, as a department, that the kids will be touched by it (and) that they will understand how profound this is," Hansen said.

He believes community members could benefit from the presentation as much as the high school's students can.

"I think it's great for them to see history come alive," Hansen said. "It will bring some diversity" to the community.

Providing that opportunity comes with a price.

Warsinger's presentation will cost about $1,800, Hansen said.

Community organizations and businesses stepped up to offset those expenses.

Colorado Northwestern Community College and Wyman Living History Museum donated funds to pay for the presentation, Hansen said, and Elk Run Inn provided rooms for Warsinger and Olson.

Hansen began planning Warsinger's visit in December 2006. Since then, he said, other teachers in the Social Studies Department helped organize the presentation.

"Everyone I talked to in the school district was very supportive," he said.


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