Sunday, December 11, 2011

18th and Final Post!

Well... the semester is finally winding down and I am one semester away from the end of my undergraduate career. I have had a lot of amazing opportunities and exciting adventures over the past couple of years here at Loyola but I will forever remember this internship. It definitely lands in my top 10 greatest memories. 

Words cannot describe the things I have learned and taken from this internship. I have grown so much over the last four months just from gaining knowledge passed along to me by my supervisors and all those involved in the fine tuning of the museums daily life. I wish everyone the best and I look forward to traveling back to visit as soon as possible.

If anyone out there is reading this I hope if your a history lover you look into this opportunity with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center because it is truly an experience of a lifetime.

Bon Voyage all! See you on the flip side =)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011

On Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting Beverly Patt the author of Best Friends Forever: A WWII Scrapbook. Her book follows the lives of two little girls, Dottie and Louise, whose lives change drastically after Dottie and her family are taken away to a Japanese Internment Camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The book is a record of letters and pictures from both Dottie and Louise as their friendship remained intact while Dottie and her family were away. As a scrapbook it gives the reader an opportunity to read and visualize at the same time.

Although the book is based on fictional characters it is inspired by real events, places, people, and artifacts. As a young girl Beverly's mother spoke of a family that just up and disappeared from the neighborhood and it wasn't until she was in her adult years that Beverly realized that the family had in fact been transported to an internment camp. Having little knowledge of what this actually involved she began her research and eventually it evolved into this book. 

Beverly put a lot of time into researching not only books and the internet but individuals who had been in internment camps or the families of these people. She was determined to make sure that the artifacts used were as true to the real thing as possible so that this book would not only be educational and light hearted for readers of all ages but a true testament to the past. 

The book and author are truly amazing. I throughly enjoyed reading it because it gives you just enough background and history as well as the perfect amount of visual to keep you turning for more. If your looking for a book that gives you a mild peek into the experiences of internees in these camps this book is a wonderful introduction.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

John Macsai

November 18th, 2011

John Macsai, one of many survivors that speak at the museum, is a labor camp survivor from Hungary.Unlike many of the survivors I have come in contact with, John was a matured young man when he first became effected by the Nazi regime. At the age of 18 John was already through his elementary and high school years and preparing to enter the world as a grown, educated man. Growing up he doesn't remember there being a lot of openly expressed anti-Semitism. Over time the laws made it more difficult for members of the Jewish communities. They couldn't become members of parliament, they weren't allowed into the army but were placed in labor units, and they couldn't own their own business without first acquiring a christian business partner.

By January 1944 the war was in full swing but John and his family believed they would survive until after the war. Jewish families in the countryside of Hungary were completely wiped out around them but they kept their optimism.

On a Sunday in March 1944 the Germany army arrived in Budapest, where John and his family lived, and took control of the entire city. All Jews were forced to turn in any motor vehicles in their possession, money and jewelry were turned over to the banks, their homes and any land they owned was taken from them, and they were forced to move out of their apartments. Everyone Jewish individual was recognizable by the Yellow Star of David they now wore and all men 18 years of age and older were sent into labor units.

From Summer to Fall of 1944 John worked in a labor camp alongside his father. The camps in Hungary weren't unbearable as the Germans allowed the Hungarians to control the Jewish population as they pleased.They were fed well and lived moderately comfortable. The men built airports and runways for German transport. At this time the German Airforce was incharge of the labor units, and being that they were much more elite than the SS guards they were also more humane.

From the Fall of 1944 until the end of the war Johns hope for survival began to dwindle. The labor camps were eventually taken over the German armies and they uprooted all the men and moved them the Austria-Hungarian border where their work and living conditions became almost unbearable. The men were forced to sleep in barn stales on hay with no roof covering. The temperature drop during the evenings caused them to awake under a blanket covered with snow. They were only served breakfast and dinner which consisted of coffee, veggies, bread, and horse meat. Each day men were shot publicly for little to no reason.

In January of 1945 Johns father broke his foot during the work day and was later left behind to die when the men were forced to retreat to Austria as the Russians swiftly approached the borders. The Germans forced the men to run and those who couldn't were shot and left to die on the side of the road. This ended up becoming the Death March to Mauthausen.

For five days they were unfed and forced to go through garbage cans to find anything edible. They dug veggies from the passing fields and ate snails for their protein. Upon their arrival to the concentration camp there was no room for them in the bunkers. They were forced to sit in formations in the yard and the SS randomnly shot men from high up in the towers.

They were then transported to a temporary camp where they stayed for three weeks up until liberation. There was no work for them then so they sat around all day without food or water. It was April in the Alps so conditions were brutal.

Americans finally arrived and by this time Frank was down to a mere 95 lbs. He was immediately hospitalized with Tiphus and placed in a recuperation camp for five days. He was then sent home to Budapest where he found that the train station had been bombed to ash forcing him to walk from the city borders to where his family apartment used to be located. Upon his arrival his mother greeted him at the door as she too had survived the war.

John studied Architecture at the University of Budapest. He was one of ten individuals that received a scholarship to travel to the United States to continue his education for outstanding grades. He retired in 1996 and it happily married today with four children and ten grandchildren.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24, 2011

It has been a couple weeks since I had the opportunity to post. I have been documenting all of my survivor encounters and hope to have them all posted next week after the holiday break!

I am getting very excited as the project I am helping to plan is swiftly approaching. December 4th we are hosting an event honoring an authors documented friendship during Japanese-American internment. Scrapbooking Family Memories will give children and adults an opportunity to hear the authors story as well as participate in creating a scrapbook of their own memories.

Beverly Patt was a young girl when her best friend and her family were taken from their homes and placed in an internment camp after the bombing of pearl harbor. She saved notes, pictures, and scraps of memories from their friendship and as an adult turned it into a scrapbook that tells her story. It is a great way to remember the wonderful friendship they shared through the eyes of an innocent child.

Amanda Friedeman, the museums Miller Family Youth Exhibit Educator, and I have been making plans and putting together last minute details to make this event both fun and educational for all ages. Getting children informed and involved at a young age is what the museums youth center is all about. Pictures and Details to come following the event!!

Happy Turkey Day All!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Marketing Strategies!

Kudos to Ruth: Edelman Integrated Marketing for the amazing new advertisements throughout the city. So far I have seen two buses and a train displaying our new campaign!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Teaching Trunks

Teaching Trunks may be one of the coolest resources we provide to schools all over the midwest. If a school requests our teaching trunk for a semester regardless of where they are, we will find a way to ship it to them. This week Alexis and I inventoried, stocked, and assembled six trucks. Our trunks range from 5th to 12th grade and the materials vary based upon the schools curriculum. In Illinois, Holocaust Education is a mandatory subject and everyone is required by the state mandate to provide Holocaust Education for their students. 

We began the process weeks ago when we found out that we were receiving several more trunks allowing us to provide more schools with this unique teaching experience. Each trunk is donated to the Education Center and a plaque is then cemented to the trunk in honor of the donor/s. 

After spending the last month going through our inventory and ordering the books, dvds, and binders we were missing we are now able to get them fully up and running. This past week we put together one 5-6th grade trunk, four 7-8th grade trunks, and one 9-12th grade trunk. Each trunk reflects not only the teachers curriculum but the level of information we feel the students in the age group will be ready to encounter in a classroom.

The materials used in these trunks are ABSOLUTELY incredible. There are so many books I have found and begun reading just from inventorying the trunks. Each school pays a $200 deposit which is returned to them upon the return of the trunk to our facility. Only $200 dollars...I wish we had the resources to provide every school with a trunk because this literature is incredible and every student should be able to partake in this kind of learning experience.

Larry Shelton

Larry was a survivor that I met recently during a speech he was giving at the museum. He was a child saved during WWII by the Kindertransport which included a series of rescue attempts to get children out of Germany and into Great Britain safely. At 89 years old Larry Shelton is one of the most endearing and interesting people I have ever met. 

At the age of 8 years old, Larry lived with his family in Germany above his grandmothers hardware store. Larry had a younger brother who was also saved during the kinderstransport rescues. Their family did everything they could to shield the boys from the backlash of Hitler coming into power but once the Jewish community lost all their rights as citizens there was no hiding the plans that were unraveling. Larry and his brother were bullied terribly for being Jewish and eventually were sent to Italy for schooling to help relieve them of the building tensions brought on by Jewish discrimination.

During the time that Larry was studying in Italy, his father was taken to a concentration camp where he eventually found a way out and escaped to Holland. 

At 14 Larry was traveling home during Easter break when he was picked up a train station and taken to a prison in Florence, for being a Jewish man. He was jailed for three months during which he was let out for one hour a day and then returned to confinement. After being released in 1938 he reunited with his father and they both returned to Germany where his mother and younger brother were still residing with family. 

Kristallnacht was the worst event he experienced during his time left in Germany. Propaganda covered the streets in his town especially the Jewish owned stores. The Germans went through the neighborhood and destroyed everything. During this time his father was sent back to a concentration camp. 

The last time Larry saw his mother was the day she dropped him off at the train station in which he was to travel to his new home in England where he lived amongst Quakers free and safe. His brother was also adopted but separately by a family.

Larry's parents were both shot to death and buried in a Ravine; he received this information from the archives in Germany. Although the Nazis wanted to rid themselves of this impure race, they took extensive records of all the individuals they killed.

Years later Larry and his brother found one another and reunited recently when his brother moved to the United States. Larry is married with children including a son who played professional soccer for five years.