Holocaust survivor Werner Reich delivered a powerful message to Nesaquake Middle School eighth graders on Friday morning.
Reich began the presentation by getting students to understand the gravity of graffiti that includes the swastika.
Reich said he is occasionally asked by schools or law enforcement officials to speak with students who have defaced desks with the Nazi symbol.
“I sit down with the students and ask them, ‘Why did you paint this?’” Reich told the Nesaquake eighth graders at Friday’s assembly. “And the answer is, ‘It’s a joke.’ And my next question is very simple: ‘Explain the joke to me.’ And, so far, after 15 or 20 years, I haven’t had one simple explanation of the joke because, quite frankly, there is no explanation.”
Reich, who has addressed students at multiple schools in the District this academic year, proceeded to explain that the Holocaust stemmed from prejudice as well as the indifference of good people who did nothing to halt it.
The 94-year-old Reich then recounted his family history.
Reich and his family were residents of Berlin, Germany, when Adolph Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in 1933. He later was arrested by the Gestapo, beaten and jailed. He was then sent to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz II concentration camps.
Nesaquake principal Daniel McCabe told the students it was a privilege to hear Reich’s first-person account.
“We do a lot of assemblies during the year,” McCabe told the students. “This, by far, is the most powerful in my opinion.”
Date Added: 4/1/2022