To place The Diary of Anne Frank in historical context, Ms. Smith’s and Ms. Marten’s 7th grade English classes traveled on February 4 to The Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown New York. During their visit, students watched a video about the S.S. St. Louis, a German luxury liner carrying 930 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to Cuba in May 1939. However, when the ship reached the shores of Cuba, refugees were denied entry. Ultimately, the St. Louis passengers found refuge in Holland, France, Great Britain, and Belgium; the majority of them survived the war.
One of Ms. Smith’s students asked a family friend, Judith Copen, to visit the 7th grade classes to speak about her experiences as a passenger on the S.S. St. Louis liner. Although only 14 months old, Ms. Copen recalled her voyage and shared her story with the students. She told them about how she was separated from her parents and how she survived the Holocaust by being adopted by a French family.
Ms. Copen’s visit on February 24 brought the students’ studies to life. She, unlike Anne Frank and millions of other Jewish people, survived the nightmare of the Holocaust. Her talk was a moving and touching experience—one that will stay in the hearts of students for a long time to come. A special thanks to Judith Copen for taking time out of her busy schedule to visit with our classes.