• Walnut Hills H.S. hosts exhibit on the Holocaust

    March 14th, 2012 | Section: Featured, Local News

    Walnut Hills student learns the horrors of the Holocaust.

    Students at Walnut Hills High School had the unique opportunity to host a temporary exhibit, “A Reason to Remember: Roth, Germany 1933-1942,” at their school Feb. 6 – 16. Through 27 museum quality panels, the exhibit tells the personal story of the five Jewish families who lived in the small village of Roth. The exhibit introduces the families, in an intimate and emotional way, as they lived in 1933 and details what happened to them during the Nazi era. The demise of this tiny Jewish community is chronicled in detail, using primary source materials such as photographs, documents and artifacts, as well as eyewitness testimonies. The exhibit illustrates how the relations between these families and their neighbors were systematically dismantled.

    Principal Jeffrey Brokamp shares that, “we were thrilled to host such an exceptional exhibition rooted in an important chapter of our collective history.” He added, “the exhibit challenged students to think critically about the choices they make when they are called upon to respond to prejudice or any other type of injustice.” Trained by the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education and the UC Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Culture, student docents facilitated tours of the exhibition for their peers as well as the public. One of the students reflected on the experience by sharing, “it was a wonderful learning experience, I thought I knew about the Holocaust, but now I realize I didn’t know much at all.”

    Additionally, descendants of Roth live in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, including two Walnut High School students. These students, along with other descendants in Cincinnati, traveled to Roth this past summer to learn about their family history, and build new bonds with current residents. After this trip, Emma Raider-Roth said, “It is important for others to know about what happened in Roth, because it is one thing to learn the dates, the facts, and the numbers of the Holocaust, but it is an entirely different thing to learn the stories.” She added, “the story of my grandfather’s village is one that tells about an entire town that shut its windows on their friends who were being herded out of their homes in a mix of fire, hate and horror. This exhibit shows others what happened outside of those closed shutters.”

    Otto Stern, 89, of Florence Ky., was born in Roth. He was the first Jewish resident to return to Roth at the end of World War II, this time as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. His son Arnold, daughter-in-law Frances and granddaughter Katelin, also reside in Florence, and visited Roth five years ago.

    A group of current residents of Roth formed an “Arbeitskreis” (working group) 15 years ago to preserve in Roth the memory of those who perished, to rededicate the synagogue, and to educate the children of Roth and the surrounding area about the Holocaust, tolerance and dialogue. Members of the group created the original version of this exhibit. Bringing the exhibit offers our community an opportunity to commemorate this history, and to learn about the important work of dialogue, co-existence and mutual understanding.

    After the exhibit’s local debut at Walnut Hills, it is now on display at Cincinnati’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education from Feb. 21 – March 16. In addition, Dr. Annegret Wenz-Haubfleisch—the current leader of the Arbeitskreis—will be in Cincinnati in early March to offer two public lectures. Dr. Wenz-Haubfleisch, the associate archivist at the state archives in Marburg, will speak on Sunday March 11, at 2 p.m., on “Germans, American Jews, and the Holocaust: Commemoration, Education, and Reconciliation Today in the Village of Roth, Germany.” This event will be held at the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. She will also speak at a brown-bag lunch on Tuesday, March 13, at 12 p.m., on “History and Commemoration: Perspectives on the History of the Village of Roth, Germany and Contemporary German-American Jewish Relations.” This event will be held at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

    Partners in bringing this exhibit to Cincinnati include The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, the University of Cincinnati, Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Walnut Hills Alumni Foundation and the German Consulate, Chicago.

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