Elkhart Culture Series: Continuing the Conversation

Across the country, middle school students learn about Anne Frank and the struggles her family faced during World War II and the Holocaust. This year, through the Elkhart Culture Series: Continuing the Conversation, students in Elkhart County have the opportunity to engage in a richer experience, including touring the Anne Frank: A History for Today Traveling Exhibit at Elkhart Central High School.

A History for Today tells the story of Anne Frank against the background of the Holocaust and the Second World War. It shows photographs of Anne Frank’s family, portrays the rise of the Nazis, the persecution of the Jews, and the way the people responded to this. The exhibition shows the impact of the Nazi policy on the Frank family and their roommates in the secret annex.

“The Holocaust provides one of the most effective subjects for examining basic moral issues,” says Tessa Sutton, supervisor of connective leadership and inclusion. “A structured inquiry into this history yields critical lessons for an investigation into human behavior. It also addresses one of the central instructions of education in the United States, which is to examine what it means to be a responsible citizen.”

“This is a great experience for our students,” says Jennifer Roth, language arts teacher at West Side Middle School. “We’re always looking for ways to tie text into a real-life, meaningful experience. This exhibit gives our students something to look forward to – providing a better understanding that Anne Frank was a girl who was their age, understanding what she went through – it really enriches the study for them.”

High school students from Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial will serve as docents for the tours. Student docents received training from the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, and also toured the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois.

Students from North Side, Pierre Moran, West Side, Elkhart Central, and Elkhart Memorial will be touring the Anne Frank exhibit throughout January. Students throughout Elkhart County will be invited to tour in February.

The Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibition will be on display at Elkhart Central High School through early February. ECS staff is invited to tour the exhibition at Elkhart Central on February 6 at 6:30pm at no charge. The public is invited to tour the exhibition at Elkhart Central on February 7 at 6:30pm at no charge. The exhibition will move to the Midwest Museum of American Art on February 17, where it will remain on display through March 1.

In February, the Elkhart Culture Series: Continuing the Conversation brings Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor to Elkhart. Eva and her twin were identified by Nazi soldiers as children to be used for medical experimentation by Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Approximately 1,500 pairs of twins were used for medical experimentation – only an estimated 180 children survived, including Eva and her sister.

In April 2015, Eva traveled to Germany to testify in the trial of former Nazi Oskar Gröning. During this trial, Kor and Gröning shared an embrace, with Eva thanking Gröning for his willingness, at age 93, to testify as to what happened more than 70 years ago. Eva founded CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in 1995 to educate the public about eugenics, the Holocaust, and the power of forgiveness. She received international attention when she publicly forgave the Nazis for what had been done to her. This story was later explored in the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele.

Eva brings her powerful message of forgiveness to Elkhart for the public at The Lerner Theatre on February 23 at 6:30pm. This event is free. Advanced tickets are available, but not required. Community support of these events helps ensure we can continue to bring speakers to Elkhart.

We’re thankful for the support of Elkhart Education Foundation and Community Foundation of Elkhart County for sponsoring these events.