WEST ORANGE, NJ — The annual Holocaust assembly at Roosevelt Middle School on April 18 featured a special performance highlighting the life and death of Anne Frank.
Presented by the award-winning educational acting company “Living Voices,” “Through the Eyes of a Friend” provided a young teen’s vantage point of the Nazi occupation of Holland and their subsequent internment at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The teen, a composite of many of Anne Frank’s friends, was named Sarah Weis and was performed by actress Elizabeth Rainer, East Coast director for Living Voices.
Rainer set up the occupation of Holland and the Frank family journey. Different colored badges for different types of “undesirable” groups were shown along with what life was like under the Nazi regime. The unique program provided an interactive experience with a PowerPoint presentation featuring voices and old photographs.
The program was not only educational, but emotional, describing the experiences of Weis and the Frank family at Bergen-Belsen and their eventual deaths. Of the Frank family, only Anne’s father, Otto, survived, and years later received Anne’s diary from a family friend. It has gone on to become one of the most-read and most-translated works in history.
It has been 63 years since the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, only months after Anne Frank’s death. Few survivors of the Holocaust remain, but programs like these help to keep alive the memories of those that perished so many years ago.
“If you spend any time after today’s assembly thinking about what it was really about, sharing what you’ve seen and heard in relation to it, using your one mind and your heart to inspire countless words that emanate from your one soul to impress upon others that not only should something like the Holocaust never happen again, but the thoughts and feelings that inspired it also need to disappear completely as well,” ELA teacher and event organizer Jay Wecht said in his opening comments.
“You be the change you want to see,” Principal Lionel Hush told the students.
The assembly ended with a brief question and answer period as students and staff quietly left to continue their days, unable to grasp the senseless death of 6 million Jews and 5 million others during the Holocaust.
Photos Courtesy of WOSD