A trip into history brings back lessons about Holocaust

A girl in the front row of Donna Mintz’s eighth-grade language arts class raised her hand Wednesday. She wanted to know how to spell a word.

So Angela Eichhorn spelled out Zyklon B. The girl wrote it carefully into her notebook.

Eichhorn had explained to the class how Jews in Germany would board trains, many believing they were going to work camps in the country. She told how they would travel packed 100 to a boxcar, some dying on the way, how they would be off-loaded, told to strip and be herded into shower rooms by their Nazi guards.

Then two of them would climb onto the roof and drop pellets of Zyklon B through a vent,” she said. The gas would spread quickly, killing the inhabitants in just a few minutes. “It was very fast, it was very efficient.”

Ugly details from a shameful period. But Eichhorn, media coordinator at Penderlea Middle School, thinks it’s important that children learn about the Holocaust.


The classmates listened in silence as she described the atrocities, illustrating her talk with pictures and slides. She started by showing pictures of Jewish children at home, at school, playing and sitting alone. Then she showed them the trains, the camps and the executions.

“The kids are usually disbelieving. It’s hard to believe,” she’d said earlier as we talked in the library of Penderlea Middle School. She is in her 24th year as media coordinator or school librarian, 22 of those years at the school set among the farm fields of Pender County.



Published: Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 9:41 p.m.

Webmaster note: Maybe these “ugly details” are “hard to believe” because they’re not correct. Just a thought.