Holocaust survivor shares experience via Skype with Shelton students

Holocaust survivor Magda Herzberger recently shared her harrowing experience, via Skype, with students at Shelton High School (SHS).

Herzberger, 88, spoke of her personal experiences living through the tragedy in the Auschwitz concentration camp as English students watched and listened in the school’s lecture hall.

“She made me re-think my life,” said SHS student Erin Silinsky. “I have nothing to complain about. We have our lives given to us on a silver platter. We will hopefully never have to go through this.”

English teacher Megan Sherr described Herzberger’s presentation as “enlightening, inspiring and moving ... She was eloquent and willing to answer any questions the students had for her.”

Session lasted almost two hours

Herzberger, an Arizona resident, talked for more than an hour and then students were able to interact and ask questions for an additional 45 minutes.

The session was recorded to share with additional classes.

SHS Headmaster Beth Smith purchased the Skype technology so the interview could take place. The technology now will be used for similar events in the future.

Session initiated by a student

The event was prompted by SHS student Selena Chapman, who had studied Herzberger and decided to contact her for more information. The Skype session was at the suggestion of Herzberger and her desire to “tell her story with as many people as possible.”

During the session, Herzberger recalled many details of her experience at age 18, and said she hoped that young people of similar ages will connect with her and her story.

Herzberger lives in Arizona with her husband of 67 years. She is a poet, lecturer, composer and author of several books, including “Survival,” an autobiography of her childhood and suffering in three Nazi death camps during World War II. Learn more about her at www.magdaherzberger.com.

Students were moved by talk

Students said they were moved by the Herzberger presentation.

“We always read about the Holocaust in school and our teachers talk about it, but to actually have a survivor tell you her story, and to hear her emotion is so powerful,” said student Melissa Scrivani.

“I was able to put myself in her shoes and I felt sad, scared, and hurt,” said student Tyera Sowell. “I felt what she felt through her speech. Madga is a strong woman who should never be forgotten, and will never be forgotten by any of us.”

“She was so positive and informational,” said student Celina Chapman. “She remembered everything so vividly and her words really made an image in my mind of the horror she went through.”

“Listening to Madga made me feel grateful for everything I have,” said student Nikki Vartuli. “The way she talked made me feel like I was reading a book. She was extremely well spoken.”

‘I will be a better person’

“After talking to Magda, I realized how good my life is,” said student Billy Simics. “I think after hearing what a difficult life she had as a kid my age, I will be a better person and try to never take life or freedom for granted. They can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. I will start living in the present and treat every second like it is my last.”

Student Anna DePasquale said Herzberger helped students better comprehend the Holocaust. “I cannot believe she kept her faith and trust in God throughout her journey — even when she was on the edge of death,” DePasquale said.

'Was truly inspiring'

“Talking to Madga was truly inspiring,” said student Vanessa Masick. “I thought it was incredible how she was so calm about the whole ordeal. She didn’t blame God for any of her hardships. She had a very optimistic view on life.

“I also thought it was very interesting hearing about her life after the war,” Masick continued. “In school, we always hear about what happened during the war, but we never learn much about the aftermath.”