Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Speck Visits Holocaust Sites in Germany
There are some subject matters that are taught in school that are often difficult to study, not because of their academic rigor, but because the nature of the material is harsh and hard to comprehend. One such class is Remember the Holocaust. It can be said that it is even harder to see and experience where the events took place and witness the destruction that has been left behind. Tiphany Speck, a Social Studies teacher, had the opportunity to do just that. Having taught Remember the Holocaust in previous semesters, she was able to travel during the Winter break to visit family in Germany and take a historical tour of places involved in World War II and the Holocaust.
Ms. Speck started her tour in Berlin. She took two walking tours that were comprised of various locations and points of interest throughout Berlin’s history. The first tour started off at the Brandenburg Gate. It then went to the Holocaust Memorial, which is comprised of 2,711 gray cement block columns designed in a very simple and artistic manner. Next was the spot where Hitler's Berlin Bunker was located. There now is an apartment building complex, with no physical remains of the actual bunker.
The tour then continued with a walk by the German Air Force Building, where Hermann Goering was the top man in charge. She saw places where the Berlin Wall was still standing and saw Check Point Charlie, where the U.S. check point was in the city during the Cold War. She also saw the Reichstag building (German Parliament) and learned its interesting past history, especially in catapulting Hitler to power.
In the afternoon, she took the 2nd of the two tours which focused exclusively on the Third Reich (3rd Kingdom/realm) which Adolf Hitler declared and presided over. This tour took Ms. Speck to other memorials in the city dedicated to those who were singled out and murdered during the Nazi regime. She saw the Politician Memorial (those who did not embrace the Nazi ideology), the Homosexual Memorial, and the Soviet Memorial. Then she walked around the city to significant spots and further learned about three main men in Hitler's government (Himmler, Goering and Goebbels).
After her wanderings around Berlin, the next day Ms. Speck headed toward Poland to visit the Auschwitz/Birkenau Memorial. In 1940-1942, the camp housed prisoners who died mainly from the harsh physical conditions they endured (malnutrition, bitter cold winters and unsanitary conditions). Then in 1942 after the Nazi leadership decided on the "Final Solution to the Problem of the Jews," they built the huge gas chambers.
The Jewish people were transported by train to Auschwitz from all over Europe. The Nazis would cram 60-100 Jewish people into one of these train wagon/cars. 75% of the Jewish prisoners immediately went to the gas chamber, while over 1 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz.
In reflecting on her Germany travel experiences, Ms. Speck stated, “It was an incredible trip in which I learned a tremendous amount but it is hard to comprehend it all. I was standing in places that were associated with such violence and evil. However, I was impressed by the efforts that the German government has taken to come to grips with their history and move forward, knowing they will never be able to right the wrong that was done but rather understand the importance of coming to terms with history.”
Written by: Written by Donna Helms, Web Editor with Contributions from Tiphany Speck
Posted: Jan 14, 2014 by Donna Helms