Sam Harris (‘06): Holland and Knight’s
Holocaust Remembrance project 2006 in Washington, DC had a tremendous
impact on me regarding how I think of a diverse group of high school
students in reference to their comprehension of the Holocaust. The
students wrote interesting and thought provoking winning essays. When
the few survivors, teachers and students met I could feel immediate
bonding. We came together to learn and to teach, completely open and
with a great desire to share experiences no matter how painful. We all
wished the week extended into a month. Our bonding and friendship
continued throughout the year. We received emails, letters and phone
calls from students and teachers.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from one of the attending teachers of 2006, Toni Bjeland of Billings, Montana. Toni said her fourth grade class wanted to speak with me on the phone and ask me questions. I responded “yes, of course.” The children and I spoke for quite a while and then sent me thank you notes and drawings. I was moved when a child wrote, “I bet it was scary for you in the Holocaust. Did they really kill kids? How old were you when they put you in a concentration camp? I would never want to be there.”
I received a letter and a graduation picture from Mindy Thompson, one of the 2006 essay contest winners. She wrote in part,” Sam and Dede, I’m so glad I had the chance to meet both of you! I’ll never forget the things you taught me and how the week in Washington, DC changed my life.”
Holland and Knight is making it possible to expand Holocaust education throughout the country. Through memory and education we have to be able to say in the future that they really won’t “kill kids.”
On a personal note, this May my wife Dede and I visited Wannsee, a beautiful villa set on a lovely lake just outside the city of Berlin Germany. This was the setting for the planning of the final solution. How were the nazis going to dispose of the 11,000,000 Jews in Europe? Eichman and 14 others did the planning. Walking in the very rooms that the nazi officers planned the atrocities gave was a very erie feeling. I was ashamed of the human race.
The shocking fact is that those in attendance at the Wannsee Conference were mostly lawyers. It is proper and fitting that Holland and Knight, one of our country’s finest law firms, has taken on this program to remember and educate our children. As a survivor who participated in your program I can tell you that you “hit the mark.”