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Learning from the past: Lawrence school hosts annual Holocaust exhibit

Lawrence’s St. John Catholic School hosted its third annual Holocaust exhibit Thursday night.

A 97-year-old Holocaust survivor’s son, Peter Stern, spoke about his father’s life: from losing his family to the concentration camps—but then escaping Berlin—later joining the Army here in the United States—and ultimately playing a part in the liberation of one of the concentration camps.

The exhibit—which stays up until Tuesday—displays art work from St. John’s eighth grade class.

St. John Catholic School eighth-grader, Chase Ramirez, says he already knew a decent amount about the Holocaust.

But he missed a lot of the details, like the German Wartime Expansion.

“I learned that more people, so many more people than I thought of, were affected by this,” Ramirez said.

That’s why his Language Arts teacher, Megan Fairchild, spends an entire semester teaching her students about this subject alone.

“From the beginning of anti-Semitism, all the way up to liberation of the camps and the killing centers,” she said.

Fairchild says that with bullying and discrimination front and center in the news, her students need to learn from the past.

“For kids in 8th grade, you know it’s important for them to learn about tolerance and understanding and acceptance,” she said.

At the end of the semester, the students have two weeks to put the holocaust exhibit together.

“The main project I was working on was the liberation of the camps and a doctor who mostly worked on twins in the Holocaust,” student Chase Ramirez said.

Known as the “Angel of Death,” Dr. Josef Mengele would divide the prisoners in Auschwitz.

“It was basically left, right—who dies, who lives,” Ramirez said.

He’s infamous for performing torturous surgeries, particularly on twins.

“One survivor I researched about remarked that he never used anesthesia when he did surgeries,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez says, of learning more about the past, and researching his part in detail:

“It changes the way I look at today’s genocides, for example, Syria,” he said. “I know now how horrible it can be…when I see the news today, I just think, how can this mistake keep on happening?”

Which ultimately—helped him better understand the present.

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