This online journal was begun to chronicle the unfolding of something very special in my career that is, I think, profoundly affecting my life and the lives of others- the re-connection of a train transport full of 2500 Holocaust survivors with the American soldiers who liberated them on April 13th, 1945 near Magdeburg, Germany.
I am the history teacher from a small rural town in upstate New York, USA who is caught up in the middle of it all. My students and I don’t have a high profile website, but if you keep reading, you will see that several people’s lives have been changed by it.
On this web log you will find my posts. The first, “Remember”, was written years ago as a reaction to the “commercialization” of the American holiday of Memorial Day. It kind of describes how my World War II Living History Project came about, and I am proud of the fact that it began long before paying tribute to this generation or conducting oral history became fashionable. It’s about time Ken Burns caught up with us.
The second, “A Train near Magdeburg”, is a brief summary of this special story, showing how the power of the Internet is changing lives.
You will also find several news articles that describe the Holocaust survivor/liberator reunion our high school hosted on September 14th, 2007, as a byproduct of this educational project. The Associated Press article by Chris Carola was picked up and run either in print or on the Web by almost every major newspaper in the United States, and many abroad, including the Jerusalem Post. The CBS Evening News even did a story on it.
In short order I was hearing from survivors who were on that train transport from every “corner” of the globe. These conversations and emails were full of emotion, and I try to imagine the feelings as many of them contacted their actual liberators for the first time. Of course I can’t- only they can. Yet in speaking to many of them it is apparent that April 13th, 1945 was the day they were reborn. Some have actually discovered themselves in these amazing photographs taken on that day. The detail that many of them remember is amazing. And as one of them told me yesterday, the gratitude they feel is indescribable.
What follows is the unfolding of this story. I hope you will find them as moving as I have. Let me know what you think.