Coronado students interview Holocaust survivor
David Bram, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp in World War II , spoke at Coronado High School April 29.
The visit was part of social studies teacher Jill Haffley's unit on World War II that for the third straight year has also included recorded interviews with soldiers from that war as a Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress.
“These people are history,” said Haffley, who has been honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution and is also the only Colorado teacher selected for a program through the national Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The students learn more from first-hand accounts than from reading in a textbook. And this will preserve their [the veterans'] stories when they're gone.”
Because the audience for Bram included more than Haffley's students - several hundred students and adults in all - the talk was held in the Coronado auditorium.
A 50-year Colorado Springs resident, Bram appeared at the school through arrangements with the local Greenberg Center for Learning and Tolerance. His only stipulation was that the students should ask questions of him rather than just listen to him talk. So Haffley told her students to come up with three questions each and to ask him at least one of them.
At first the kids were “a little shy,” she said, but after a while there was a line of 35 to 40 students waiting to put questions forward. “He was very gracious, a funny guy, and answered any question they had,” said Haffley.
What came out was the story of a boy who was separated from his family members at age 13 and sent to the Nazi camps. He never saw them again. Five years later, when the Americans liberated the Jewish prisoners, he learned that no one else from his family had survived. The Army gave him work, and he eventually was able to move to the U.S., choosing Colorado because he “loved the mountains,” Haffley said.
One student asked Bram what role fear played in his daily routine. The reply was that “fear was a big motivator” and he just did what he was told, working and trying to stay alive, Haffley said. He still has the number on his arm that the Nazis tattooed there.
Asked what he hoped the students would take from his talking to them, he said he wanted them to realize that “freedom is everything,” Haffley quoted him as saying. He urged the students “to be nice to each other and remember this actually happened because they are our future.”
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