Transformation & Remembrance: A Journey from the Holocaust to the Classroom is a powerful documentary from the producers of NJTV’s Classroom Close-Up, a series that follows the journey of New Jersey educators to Europe as they learn about the Holocaust in very tactile ways. Visiting concentration camps and other pertinent sites in Germany and the Czech Republic and other countries, discussing teaching tactics with European educators help this group bring the lessons of the Holocaust back to their Garden State classrooms. Among those who guide the group is Maud Dahme, a Holocaust survivor who serves on the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, and is a former State Board of Education president and recent New Jersey Hall of Fame inductee. Maud is also the subject of another documentary, The Hidden Child. We caught up with Maud for her reflections on the project and the importance of Holocaust education.
Why is Holocaust education important for today’s teachers and students?
I believe that it is so very important today for teachers and students to learn of what happened over seventy years ago. When we look around the world today we see that Genocides continue today. Today’s teachers have had Holocaust survivors, have seen films in their classrooms. However they have now seen with their own eyes what occurred in the Concentration Camps during WW2. They have now seen, felt and smelled the horrors committed by the Nazis. Their students will be the beneficiaries of their knowledge and understanding of the atrocities committed during the Nazi regime. Nothing can compare with their experiences during this trip and they will now have the opportunity to instill this knowledge to their students.
You’ve retraced the steps of Holocaust Jews with hundreds of people. Do you find that educators have a different perspective on the trip than those outside the field?
Each group I travel with looks at the Holocaust the same way teacher or not. However teachers are teaching our students so their experiences bring it live for their students. Teachers can relate their experience of the trip in a very special way to their students.
As a Holocaust survivor, how difficult is it for you to guide people through what is essentially your past?
It is not easy for anyone to relive the past. As one speaks and tells the story of the past, you see it all over again before your eyes as you describe your story.
Yes it is difficult however it is so important to share and hope you have reached your audience, adults as well as students.
What is the one thing you want people to know about this period of history?
To me the one thing amid all these atrocities that there were good people who cared and saved people as my self. They risked their lives, it did not matter what religion or circumstances one had. They risked their own lives to save others.
You were inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame last year. Congratulations! How did that come about?
New Jersey Hall of Fame has a yearly essay contest for students. Students are asked who would they nominate. Isaiah Eila, a student in Glassboro wrote the essay on me and won first prize a couple of years ago. The NJ Hall of Fame followed thru with his essay and I was inducted into the Hall of Fame as The Unsung Hero, for the work I do in educating our youth about The Holocaust. Read Isaiah’s essay here.
Transformation and Remembrance: A Journey from the Holocaust to the Classroom airs April 8 at 8 pm on NJTV.