Kingsburg student works so others won’t forget Holocaust

Kingsburg student works so others won’t forget Holocaust

By Jason Galleske


Holly Wilson doesn’t have any direct connection with the brutal Holocaust that happened during World War II, she wants to do her part to inform people of the horrific event and for history to not repeat itself. Wilson, a Kingsburg High School senior, helped out at the “The Courage to Remember” exhibit Saturday evening at the Tulare County Library in Visalia.

The featured speaker was Dr. David Cislowski, a Visalia cardiologist, whose parents both lived through the Holocaust. Cislowski discussed some of the events his parents and their Auschwitz surviving friends shared with him as a young man. “The Courage to Remember” traveling exhibit has celebrated 20 years of international acclaim and a highly successful tour throughout California and Florida. The exhibit has 42 full-color panels with more than 200 exclusive photos that offer powerful insight into the Holocaust through four distinct themes: Nazi Germany 1933-1938; Moving Toward the “Final Solution,” 1939-41; Annihilation in Nazi-occupied Europe, 1941-1945; and Liberation, Building New Lives. The exhibit continues through Nov. 5 and admission is free.

Wilson did her part by writing an article in the school newspaper as well as handing out pamphlets to explain what happened.

“I heard of the exhibit and thought it would be good to see if anyone was interested in going,” Wilson said.

Wilson has been interested with what happened in the Holocaust for quite some time.

“In the seventh grade, I was looking for a History Day topic,” Wilson said. “It really struck me that someone would to do something so destructible.”

So Wilson and her project partner did what they could to bring in Marion Blumenthal-Lazan, a Holocaust survivor and national speaker to the high school in 2007. Blumenthal-Lazan wrote a book “Four Perfect Pebbles” a memoir of her six years as a child in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Her book is still available for people to view in various libraries around Kingsburg.

“We raised around $10,000 to bring her out here,” Wilson said. “My fifth grade teacher, Janet Kelly, organized the trip. With the left over money (after Marion’s expenses), we purchased approximately 500 books for the Kingsburg library, high school library and Rafer Johnson Junior High.”

The Holocaust can be construed by some as an example of extreme bullying. Wilson herself was bullied when she was younger and wants to get the message out to others on treating people with respect despite of what one may look like.

“Obviously I can’t reach everybody,” she said. “I don’t expect to completely change everyone’s way of thinking. Hopefully, if I can influence them in a positive way then I have done my job.”

Additionally, Wilson wants to make sure this story isn’t lost on future generations.

“I think it gives the older generation hope that this story will be passed on and it will just continue like a chain reaction,” Wilson said.

Denise Wilson, Holly’s mother, has been a big supporter of her daughter’s ability to carry out the important history lesson.

“From a mom’s point of view, I couldn’t be more proud of Holly,” Denise said. “She creates her own path, she doesn’t follow others.”

Fanning the Flames

By Holly Wilson

“To all those that have known adversity and despair, I offer my belief that out of darkness can come light” (Marion Blumenthal-Lazan, “Four Perfect Pebbles). This is the mindset of a young girl who survived the horror of the Holocaust and whose words ignited the spark in my heart.

Growing up in Kingsburg, a small town where violence and hatred don’t regularly occur, I was sheltered in the darkness I had already known. However, traveling to History Day, I was exposed to the flickering flames still smoldering from the year 1945. Walking, in a hall full of hundreds of exhibits, I was drawn to one in particular. With its tow of barbed-wire jaggedly protruding from the top, I was intrigued. As I wandered over to investigate, I noticed a picture in the center of the display. On the far left side of the photograph was a pile of shoes, thousands. In the center, there was a tussled heap of clothes, hundreds of thousands. Finally, as I scanned the picture I came across what appeared to be logs, thrown on each other, like garbage. This was a pile of dead bodies. Bodies! I’d never seen such negligence taken upon a human being. How could someone do this and not feel shame for their actions? Those dead bodies were somebody’s parents, grandparents, or even his/her grandchildren. The Holocaust was something I had never heard of. I wanted to learn more about the reasoning behind these mass killings, and how anyone could murder without conscience? I would continue my interest in the Holocaust and participate in History Day a few years later with a project of my own. The true tragedy of the Holocaust is the belief that it never happened. There are people who deny the Holocaust, like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who stated, “They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of the Jews.” The stories and documentation is all the proof we should need for the world to realize that this catastrophic event happened. We are the last generation to hear a firsthand account of this horrific event. We must share the tragedy of the Holocaust to prevent history from repeating itself. As a blind world, we must open our eyes to see that violence and discrimination are not the solution. We may never live in a world free from the shallow darkness of hatred. However, we can improve by committing to memory the past events, such as the Holocaust. The voices of the Holocaust must be heard and it is up to our generation. We are responsible for making sure that the flames are fanned, and that the story remains to be heard. Please join me in attending the “Courage to Remember” traveling exhibit at the Tulare County Library, 200 W. Oak Ave., Visalia, so this generation can continue to be a voice for the victims of the Holocaust.

For further reading, Blumenthal-Lazan’s book is available for check out in the Kingsburg High School library and the Kingsburg library.