Holocaust survivor's talk to students brings impact to history

About 1,000 students listened to Holocaust survivor Paula Weissman's talk Monday at Wylie ISD's Performing Arts Center.

Two things were apparent Monday morning at Wylie ISD's Performing Arts Center.

First, it was wonderful to see an auditorium filled with students. That hasn't been the case much during the COVID era.

Second, the students were attentive.

They were there to hear Holocaust survivor Paula Weissman.

Let's not overlook the importance of appearance.

History most often is broken into two parts: Now and then. There usually is a wide gap in between.

But Monday, students heard from someone who actually witnessed one of the great atrocities of world history. She was 15 when taken from her home and separated from her family, wondering what fate awaited.

That she was seated in Abilene, Texas, 76 years after World War II is a miracle.

She is 92 and her host, Kelvin Dilks (an Abilene Christian University alum and retired Birdville ISD teacher), had to repeat questions at times. But her memories were sharp. Searing, in fact.

To imagine any Jew being rounded up by Nazis and being forced into labor or exterminated is difficult. But she was a teenager, and others were younger.

Weissman's visit didn't seemed tied to specific event. Holocaust Remembrance Day is Jan. 27, not distant on the calendar. Monday evening ended Hanukkah, so there was that connection.

But anytime students can learn first-hand about history is the right time.

Weissman's talk was sobering and impactful.

Afterward, a long line of students waited to take a selfie, hug or speak briefly with their guest.

In 2014, Holocaust survivor Max Glauben spoke to Craig Middle School eighth-graders. The students to listened closely, and warmly welcomed the guest to the school.

That, folks, this is why person-to-person interaction is key to understanding.

To hear first-hand from those who lived through the Depression, World War II, the lynching of Blacks in the South and life behind the walls of communism/socialism is to more closely relate to injustice and perseverance across the world and in our own backyards.

And vow to not see it happen again.

► Read more about Paula Weissman's talk Sunday, in print and online.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Holocaust survivor's talk to students brings impact to history