The Mizel Museum partners with the USC Shoah Foundation to offer Eyewitness to History: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks virtually.
In order to combat hatred and genocide, it is important to understand the devastating effects of racism throughout history. As time passes, the opportunity to learn from Holocaust survivors becomes increasingly rare. Through these powerful video testimonies, students will:
- Be inspired to stand up to hatred in the world today
- Engage in discussions and activities that develop empathy
- Learn how to discern factual information from disinformation
The program’s curriculum is scaffolded to ensure the presentation is grade level appropriate and addresses Colorado State requirements in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Public Schools bill. Each program includes a 45-minute session guided by a Mizel Museum educator, encouraging student participation throughout the session.
Virtual Eyewitness to History has five distinct programs:
- Jack Adler: A Slave Laborer in the Holocaust
- Jack Adler: Countering Hate with Respect
- Paula Burger: A Young Girl Among the Bielski Partisans
- Rudi Florian: Propaganda and Personal Responsibility
- Osi Sladek: A Courageous Escape from Hate
Jack Adler was born in Poland in 1929. He witnessed the decay of humanity while enduring life in two ghettos and the horrors of three concentration camps. His younger sister was killed at Auschwitz, his older sister died at Bergen-Belsen, his brother and mother died in the Pabianice ghetto in Poland, and his father in Dachau. At 16, he was liberated by American soldiers and moved to the U.S. as a war orphan. Jack now speaks all over the United States and internationally to spread his message of living without hate. Though his entire family was murdered by the Nazis, he still has hope for the human race and emphasizes the importance of respecting others. Jack’s take on hatred, racism, bigotry, and misused religious beliefs challenges audiences to analyze their own beliefs and adhere to the principles of the Golden Rule: treat others as we ourselves want to be treated.
Born in 1934 in Nowogrudek, Poland, Paula Burger’s early childhood was idyllic. Her hometown was nearly fifty-percent Jewish, and her family operated a successful ranch and grocery store, making them an important part of the community. However, everything changed when the Nazi Party captured Nowogrudek in 1941. Paula’s family, including her mother, father, and her little brother Isaac, were forced into the Nowogrudek ghetto. With time, Paula’s father joined the legendary Bielski Partisans, a Jewish resistance group. After their mother was killed, Paula’s father orchestrated for his children to be smuggled out of the ghetto to join the partisan community in the Naliboki Forest. In 1945, Paula and her remaining family were liberated. Eventually, they immigrated to the United States and started a new chapter. Prior to her passing in 2019, Paula shared her story with thousands to inspire others to overcome adversity. Paula’s story is a testament to resilience, strength, and the enduring human spirit.
Born to devout Catholics in 1934 in Germany, Rudi Florian’s parents opposed the Nazis but didn’t dare to do so openly. As a child, Rudi’s teachers were Nazis and his schoolbooks contained Nazi propaganda. When he was 10 years old, he briefly served in the Hitler Youth until his mother came up with an excuse to have him released. When Russian troops invaded Germany, Rudi’s family was displaced to Poland. Eventually, they moved to East Berlin, where Rudi encountered Communist propaganda. Later in life, Rudi made a pledge to “join those who warned that genocide can happen again to any group of people, anywhere…” and served in the United States Air Force for 30 years. Now retired, Rudi educates others about the importance of remembering the Holocaust, the value of human rights and the sanctity of life.
Osi Sladek was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936. In 1939, his world was turned upside down when the Nazi Party took control of Slovakia and introduced laws that segregated and persecuted the Jewish community. At a time when he should have been a carefree child, he was torn away from his youth and subjected to intense fear. Osi and his parents survived the Holocaust in hiding: first, with the help of Christian friends and neighbors, and then, Osi’s parents made the difficult decision to smuggle him across the border to Hungary to live with relatives. Eventually, Osi returned to his Czechoslovakia where he and his parents went into hiding in the Tatra Mountain range alongside Jewish Partisans. Osi continues to share his story to inspire the next generation to stand up against antisemitism and hate in our communities today.