Moyers GEAR UP students visit Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
Moyers GEAR UP sophomores and juniors recently visited the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Founded in 1984, the Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and to teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference for the benefit of all humanity. The Museum has been recognized for its compelling and creative programming, internationally recognized exhibits, and world-class speakers.
As students toured the Museum, they viewed pictures, maps and artifacts from the time of the Holocaust—January 30, 1933–May 8, 1945. Students heard stories about different victims and heroes who lived during the era.
Following the tour, students listened to Mr. Paul Kessler, a Holocaust survivor. Mr. Kessler’s family was from a village in present day Slovakia. He spoke of a town where generations of his family had lived. The Jewish people had inhabited the town since the 1700s, and when he was born in 1939, there were about 1,000 Jews in the town. When the war ended, only 124 Jews were still alive, and he was the only child.
Kessler’s father and grandfather were taken by soldiers to Auschwitz in 1942. Years later he learned of their deaths in the camp through the German’s detailed records of prisoners who arrive and deaths that occurred during this time.
Kessler’s mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle—as well as a few others in the family—survived the Holocaust. His grandmother survived a concentration camp, and he and his mother, aunt and uncle lived due to the kindness of the sympathetic non–Jewish citizens that lived in the village where they escaped to during the war to avoid capture by the Nazis that were gathering Jews to send to death camps. His family was hidden in holes in the ground.
After the war ended, his mother made arrangements for all of them to leave the country and immigrate to other countries, including the United States. Kessler and his mother immigrated to the Unites States in 1951, when he was 12 years old.
Kessler enjoyed a career working for American Express, and he traveled and lived in many countries in the world. He encouraged the students to get an education and be all the things that the children of the Holocaust did not have the opportunity to be. He also spoke of education being a core value of the Jewish people.
“Mr. Kessler’s story was amazing,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin. “He never spoke of being angry at anyone that caused him and his family so much pain. His only desire was to find the descendants of those that hid them from the Nazis and do something for them to show his appreciation of what their family had done. Students truly learned what tolerance and forgiveness are all about.”
As an added bonus, students saw part of a movie being filmed in the area. According to security, it was the new Steven King movie, 11/22/63. The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.
Moyers GEAR UP students visiting the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance were Front Row: Blade Strange, Nick McKnight, Blake Morgan, Megan Gardner, Mona Wages, Ty Kellett, Holocaust Survivor Paul Kessler, McKenzie Thompson, Nikki Hobson, and Neica Bragg Row 2: Dusty Sutterfield, Sammantha Simpson, Karley Nored, Cheyanne Davis, and Laura Mitchell Back Row: Moyer’s Teacher Nick Arms, Moyer’s Teacher Brent Shaw, Kyle McBride, David Weaver, Jacob Carter, Eric Crawford, Frankie Dial, Brian Hadley, Brooklyn Moore, Moyer’s Counselor Marcia Armstrong, and GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin