On Monday, June 11, Judith Altmann, a 93-year old Holocaust survivor, will come to Middlebrook to share her story. The evening presentation starts at 7:00 p.m., and Wilton parents and Wilton students in grades 6-12 are invited to attend.

Ms. Altmann was born in Jasina, Czechoslovakia, which was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. In 1944 she was arrested and transported with her niece to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they were selected for work. From there she was sent to the Essen and Gelsenkirchen labor camps where she remained until March 1945. Ms. Altmann survived the “death march” that ended in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, where she was liberated by the British Army and given the opportunity to go to Sweden. In 1948 she immigrated to the United States and has since dedicated her life to sharing her story with young people in hope of inspiring them to stand up for injustices.

She is driven to continue speaking at schools, university, churches, and synagogues across Connecticut and New York state.

“Sadly our intolerance of difference and particularly Anti-Semitism is on the rise and so it is very important that children be educated around what can happen when hate and discrimination are allowed to flourish.”

In a statement shared with GOOD Morning Wilton, Middlebrook School principal Lauren Feltz said the presentation fits with the wholistic approach of the school in educating its students,

“The fall of 2017 was marred by events of hateful graffiti on bathroom walls within Middlebrook. Some families wishing to process those upsetting events with their children had a hard time finding a developmentally appropriate path into the conversation. The desire from parents to engage their children in this challenging conversation was the impetus for planning this evening event. With Ms. Altmann’s story as a springboard, the adults and secondary learners in our community can engage in conversation about who we are and who we want to be both as individuals and as part of the larger Wilton community.

“Middlebrook is deeply invested in helping each of our students understand their capacity to be agents for positive change within their school, the larger Wilton community, and in the world. Our students leave Middlebrook as young adults empowered to make thoughtful choices about their words and actions. While our goal is focused on the future, we know that acceptance and understanding of others must be grounded in an understanding of the historical forces and events that have shaped our culture.

“With the distance of hindsight, we see that acts of cruelty generally spring from ignorance and fear. We hope and trust that, by fostering the habits of asking thoughtful questions and applying effective research strategies, we help prepare our students for the freedom and responsibility of active citizenship. We are not in the business of telling our students what to think, but we are very much in the business of helping them develop the tools they need to be thoughtful and to respect the thoughts of others.”

As the numbers of Holocaust survivors decline, the importance of hearing her first-hand account is one she knows is critical in making sure new generations never forget what can happen when evil goes unchecked.

“I’m praying to God for ongoing good health so I can continue to share my story.”

Ms. Altmann is vice president of the Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut, and a member of the Speakers Bureau at the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC), a not-for-profit organization, serving Westchester, Fairfield and Putnam counties, with a mission to enhance the teaching and learning of the lessons of the Holocaust and the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.