Class of 2021: The Last Album: Eyes From the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Dr. Jeff Ellison, 8th-Grade History Teacher
This year’s 8th-grade interdisciplinary project combines the Holocaust with art — specifically photography. Our artist-in-residence, Ann Weiss, tells the story of what happened when she becomes separated from her group on a visit to Auschwitz. She walked into a building and a guard asked a seemingly innocuous question: “Do you want to see something?” This simple question changed the course of Ann’s life.
The guard revealed previously unseen family albums that were not incinerated in a crematorium designed specifically to destroy photos in Auschwitz. Weiss was determined that these unknown artifacts of Jewish history had to be shared with the world. Eventually, the Polish government allowed her to see the photos again and, much later, to copy and publish them.
Since the pictures have become public, Weiss has worked tirelessly to show them to as many people as possible, and especially to people who may have a chance of recognizing some of the subjects. As a result, around 750 have been identified.
This year, students will work to print copies of these photos and ask them to employ the skills learned from Ann Weiss and our middle school art instructor Gili Sherman to create a virtual museum about the lives of these survivors many of whom are now deceased. Students will research the lives of these Survivors by speaking with family members and they will gather photos of their lives beyond their Holocaust experiences.

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