As Morris Glass went up the the microphone, the auditorium was full of talking and laughing millennials. As he began to talk, the volume of the crowd went down, but the talking didn’t stop. Glass talked about his childhood before the Germans invaded his home town, and as he moved to his first encounter with the Germans, the auditorium fell silent.
Morris Glass is a Holocaust survivor. He came to Leesville on November 21 to share his life experiences to a packed auditorium.
In History, Genocide and English classes, students learn of the events of the Holocaust. They watch movies and look at pictures to try to understand it. The truth, though, is that nobody here — in America, in 2014 — could ever understand the Holocaust. Learning the dates and people who died is easy, but trying to empathize with the overwhelming emotions felt by the Jewish people is impossible.
Glass’s purpose of telling his story is for today’s students, in their safe homes and well-stocked refrigerators, to know the uncensored truths of the Holocaust. He wants people to know of the horrifying events that he witnessed: babies being taken from their mothers and thrown at walls, Nazi Germans using their guns to hit young kids until they were dead, and children, including Glass, having to bury their own parents.
“Let me say that it’s very difficult to speak to American young people among this greatest country on Earth…for them even to start to comprehend what took place during the Holocaust is beyond human comprehension,” said Glass.
“The fact that they live in this great country and [are] born [with] just the idea, just the feeling of being born free.. that itself [explains] how, it’s so difficult [to understand]. I try very hard, I speak say about 35 minutes, and I was in the concentration camps and in the ghettos from the very beginning to the very end.. so how do you put over 6 years of incredible suffering [into words].”
Glass asked 14- to 18-year-old kids who will never suffer in the way he did to put down their cell phones and attempt to feel his hopelessness as they listen to his story. And as he started to talk, people started to listen.
“These young people are the future of this great country of ours, and it’s in their power and in their hands to make sure torture like that should never happen again, not only to the Jewish people but no other people on Earth,” said Glass.
After his speech, the typical assembly of high school students was different. Students were quiet and some still with tears in their eyes. Different from reading any book or watching any movie on the holocaust, the impact of Glass’s words made students feel something they never had before and a great respect for the man in front of them.
“At the end of his speech, he said ‘go home, hug your brothers and sisters, make sure you tell your mom and dad you love them’ because he was never able to do that. That was very powerful to me,” said Mason Pyper, a senior in Ms. Cade’s Holocaust and Genocide class.
After Glass’s speech, many students after his speech purchased his book, Chosen for Destruction: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor, which can be found on Amazon.