HHRC History: Students write poems after hearing Holocaust survivors


In 1986 Linda Voss, a 6th-grade teacher at China Elementary School created a unit entitled, “The Hatred and Prejudice Inflicted Upon Anne Frank and Other Jews of Her Time – A Lesson in Avoiding  Past  Errors.” Holocaust survivors Rochelle and Jerry Slivka visited the class and shared their personal experiences. 

Linda Voss shared some of the poems that her students wrote following the visit. 

A year later, Linda Voss was named Maine’s Teacher of the Year. She continued to teach in China and eventually moved to Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland prior to retiring and moving to Austria, where she had conducted much of her Holocaust research. 

Then they spoke. But they were not listened to.
They were beaten down for what they said.
And they did not understand why.
Now they speak.
And they are listened to.
And we are beaten down by what they say.
And we do not understand why.

Their years of joy were covered by clouds.
Clouds of hate and clouds of death.
Clouds of work and clouds of hunger.
These clouds will follow them forever.
They will not forget.

Was it necessary? Why did it happen? How did it start? Hitler.
Hitler’s thoughts of discriminating against people who were not as good as he.
If they were Jews, they weren’t good enough.
If they were crippled, they weren’t good enough.
If they didn’t like him, they weren’t good enough.
There were very few good enough
for him . . .

Many bad things have happened,, Many bad things will happen.
But certainly never so bad as the Holocaust, Never so tragic,
Never so fierce,
Never again will anyone need to shed the tears.
Never again will anyone need to suffer the fears.  
As long as we come together and say,
Never, never, ever again.

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