Message from the Klein Foundation

Sara passed along this message from the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, an organization that promotes tolerance and battles hunger. (Proceeds from Sara’s DVD “I Am Going On a Journey” benefit the Klein Foundation.)

Dear Klein Foundation Family/Supporters,

We are most excited to share with you 2 major “happenings” regarding the Klein Foundation that are available in September. The first is the reissue (7000 teachers) of the Klein Foundation/TIME Classroom Stand Up, Speak Out, Lend A Hand that can be viewed on our website. We have a few kits left if any of you need one for your class, children or grandchildren’s school, synogogue or church. Let us know this week!

Our second project is described below taken from an article just released by Southern Poverty Law Center. ( I urge you all to take the minute to read below (if you have a minute go to the URL above and view the entire report) and then let us know if you are interested in receiving it. We urge you to let others know as well. This incredible teaching tool will be available in September free of charge.


Holocaust survival inspires new Center educational kit
In April, 21-year old Sean Michael Gillespie of Spokane, Wash., was convicted of firebombing an Oklahoma City synagogue. He boasted of plans to burn others. In the same month, the Center’s Intelligence Project documented anti-Semitic vandalism in New York, California and Florida, with a 15-year-old charged with a hate crime in one of the incidents.

To help change the hearts of youthful haters and prevent future crimes, Teaching Tolerance has partnered with the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation to create a new teaching kit around an extraordinary life — an ordinary teenager caught up in the Holocaust whose spirit provided her the strength to survive.

Gerda Weissmann was a carefree girl of 15 when, in September 1939, invading German troops shattered her world. Nazis removed Gerda from her home and forced her to work as a slave laborer in German factories. Her family and friends all perished in the Holocaust.

In 1945, Gerda was forced to go with the Nazis as they fled from the advancing Soviet army. When the American lieutenant Kurt Klein, who would later become Gerda’s husband, liberated her — just one day before her 21st birthday — she weighed 68 pounds and her hair had turned white.

Gerda recounts the horrors of those years in her memoir, All But My Life. The book is the basis of a Kary Antholis documentary film, One Survivor Remembers. Co-produced by HBO and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the film won both an Emmy and an Oscar award.

The One Survivor Remembers kit includes the 39-minute video One Survivor Remembers, an accompanying standards-based curriculum guide and a box of primary documents. The new kit, scheduled for distribution in September, is designed for secondary schools, grades 8 through 12. The Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation was instrumental in the Center’s development of the new kit.

This kit comes at a time when one in seven Americans — 35 million people in all — hold unquestionably anti-Semitic views, according to the 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League.

A separate survey concludes that Americans who are most likely to have negative attitudes toward Jews also are noticeably more likely than the rest of the population to hold intolerant beliefs about other groups, including immigrants, lesbians and gays, and people of other races, ethnicities and religions.

With these findings in mind, the goals of this curriculum kit are to increase:

  • student empathy for the plight of Jews during the Holocaust;
  • student understanding of the dangers of hate and extremism;
  • levels of tolerance and appreciation of human differences among students; and
  • student commitment to civic engagement.

Holocaust education enjoys popular support in American schools, with 20 states mandating or explicitly supporting its inclusion in classrooms. The lessons and activities in the Center’s new guide meet the Holocaust education guidelines established by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They also support academic content standards in United States history, world history, civics and language arts.

One Survivor Remembers enables thoughtful classroom discussion about a historical topic that is sometimes difficult for students to comprehend. Klein’s account lessens the distance and makes the topic more accessible to students because it is the story of a girl their own age, demystifying the Holocaust. It also places the responsibility of remembering not solely on the shoulders of one woman, but on the shoulders of us all.

“In working on this project, I have watched One Survivor Remembers about 20 times,” said Brian Willoughby, interim director of Teaching Tolerance. “It still moves me, and I know students and educators across the country will be moved by it as well. Gerda Klein has valuable lessons for all of us to learn.”

SPLC Report, June 2005

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