80 Years Later: A Holocaust Survivor Tells His Story


Photo courtesy of Tina Fredo

Students from Ms. Dame and Mr. Nixon’s 9th and 10th-grade classes participating in the meeting with Manny Gurowski, a Holocaust survivor.

9th and 10th grade students at Silver Creek High School gathered around excitedly in the library for a meeting with Manny Gurowski, a Holocaust survivor of WWII. Their teachers, who were teaching the students about genocides, including the Holocaust, settled them down and got them ready for a unique experience.

The meeting took place after Diana Dame, a general education 9th and 10th grade English teacher, and Robert Nixon, a co-taught 9th and 10th grade English and literacy teacher, found out that their student, Adelyn Harvey, had a great great uncle who survived the Holocaust. So, they set up the meeting on Feb. 7, 2023 when they found out that he did interviews.

“I was talking with [Adelyn] about the unit and she has a lot of family connections to the Holocaust,” Dame explains. “She told me that her uncle does interviews… and right when I started the unit, I reached out to her family and they got in touch with her uncle Manny and he agreed.”

Dame thought that this would be very beneficial for her students.

“This unit is really important and I think that we don’t acknowledge the anti-semitisim that’s rampant not only in the country but in this community and I am proud that we were able to, students and teachers, talk about it.” Dame says.

Nixon also thought that this was important for his and Dame’s students.

“Some of these [genocides]… were not taught to some of our teachers and administrators until they were in college, they weren’t exposed to it until they were in college,” Nixon mentions. “And the fact that we could expose that to you now and build upon that as you go through Silver Creek, I think is important.”

Although Nixon and Dame were excited for this meeting, they were a bit hesitant for this to go through.

“The thing about this unit is that parts of it push the edges a little bit,” says Nixon. “So to have an actual Holocaust survivor speak on their experience and not have it edited at all, I mean It’s just authentic, is a big deal because you don’t know what they’re going to say, you don’t know what their answers are going to be.”

Despite their concerns, the event went well and the students enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Gurowski.

“I learned a lot from it because I didn’t think that people actually were able to survive [the Holocaust]” remarked JJ Sevold, a student in Dame and Nixon’s 9th grade English class. “It helped open my eyes to the fact that what we learn in class actually happens.”

The teachers also had something that stood out to them in his story as well.

Nixon adds, “how [Gurowski, Gurowski’s younger sister, and Gurowski’s mother] were able to escape and it was actually somebody within the Nazi party that hid them in the basement, I thought that was shocking for that time period, and how that went, that’s something that’s going to stay with me also.”

Harvey, who has heard Gurowski’s story many times, also had something that she felt was special.

“It’s really interesting about the soap.” Harvey says, “He tells this story every year during the high holidays, he tells this story about how he traded soap for bread for his sister and also I think it’s really cool how he still has his gold star.”

The meeting turned out wonderfully and the students listened to Gurowski’s story, happy to be able to have this opportunity to meet and hear a heartfelt story from a Holocaust survivor. As Gurowski said when the meeting ended: “There was so many miracles”