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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW students document Holocaust survivors with film

By Martina Treviño/nw news editor

Students who signed up for Linda Quinn’s humanities class last semester did not realize they were about to enter the world of documentary filmmaking.

The class themes were choice, tolerance and social responsibility. The curriculum involved looking back and seeing how different people’s choices affected humankind, including their philosophy, art and governance, Quinn said.

“Tolerance doesn’t mean that you always agree with everything someone says, but it means that you are always willing to listen, appreciate and respect the opinions and views of other people,” she said.

The class began with a look at what great writers and artists say about the subject. Later, the class focused on one important event or population, in this case the Holocaust.

They read about World War II and toured the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center.

However, their experience took them much deeper into the subject.

The students talked to 11 survivors and liberators, meeting with them personally or interviewing them via telephone. These interviews are the basis of the documentary film The Holocaust: A Survivor’s Story, produced in collaboration with the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center.

The museum’s executive director, Elliott Dlin, described the interviews as 11 pieces of a six-million-piece jigsaw puzzle that are put together to provide insight to a much greater picture.

The students video or audio taped their interviews, and the collection was compiled with segments of students discussing the interviews and the impact on the students from speaking to someone who lived and survived the Holocaust. In addition, footage from the museum is used to emphasize the survivors’ accounts.

Leo Parrish III and Bruce Grinstead of South Campus taped the student interviews and assisted with editing and other technical aspects of the project.

Quinn said the film incorporates music and dance into the story.

“The film is edgy and a little bit artsy,” she said, “not your typical student documentary.”

Class member Angel Gobel choreographed a dance featured in the film.

“Feedback from students is amazing,” Quinn said. “To look someone in the eye and hear them speak about the experience has a very different experience than merely reading about the subject.”

Quinn said the students developed a great admiration and respect for these individuals for what they have been through in their lives and how they have turned something horrible into something to educate people for a better world.

Daniel Zegozda said he was astonished by the impact of the Holocaust in terms of the tremendous number of people affected and the way they died. Jack Repp, the subject of his interview, was forced to choose between killing his schoolmates or being killed himself.

Cristina Avelar said she was strongly affected by the class and the interview she conducted.

“We studied the choices people made during the Holocaust, either to condemn the Jewish population or to liberate and help save those people,” she said.

Avelar interviewed Klaus Driesson, son of a liberator. Driesson’s mother was a German who with her best friend Lilly Wolfe, a Jewish woman, owned a dress shop in Cologne, Germany.

Because the shop carried the Jewish woman’s name, the Nazis wanted to knock it down. During Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass, the women’s 40 employees stood arm-in-arm to prevent the Nazis from damaging the shop.

Soon afterwards, Wolfe was sent to a Jewish ghetto. Driesson’s mother then moved to Vienna, found her friend in the ghetto and hid Wolfe in her apartment for three years.

After the war, Wolfe moved to New York. Eventually, both women moved to Dallas, where Wolfe became a prominent dress designer.

Avelar said the class gave her an increased awareness of her social responsibility. She now feels she has the obligation to speak out when she sees anyone degraded or hurt because of a difference.

Blair Johnson, another student in the class, said she was an adult when she first heard of the Holocaust from a cab driver during a trip to Boston. She became very interested in the subject and was surprised it was not taught to her in school.

She has read about and studied the subject and said she believes that she has a responsibility to share the dangers of prejudice with others.

The film premiered Dec. 7 at the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Museum. Survivors, liberators and the students attended along with family members and friends. The casual reception that followed allowed some of the students to meet the subject of their interview for the first time.

The film is now part of the museum’s permanent archives.

Quinn continues teaching the Introduction to the Humanities 1301 class, which is open to all students. However, the subject focus will change every semester, keeping in mind the community, local needs and opportunities, she said.

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