Lee County Middle schoolers, from left, Timothy Brock and Tucker Smith watch as Acting Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Viki Staley explains the purpose of a decorated steamer trunk to students. Thirty-three trunks, decorated by middle school students in metro Atlanta, will make their way to the state’s schools and libraries and contain educational material on World War II, the Holocaust and genocide.
LEESBURG — The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust unveiled the first Holocaust Learning Trunk Tuesday at Lee County Middle School.
The colorfully decorated steamer trunk, one of 33 that will work their way to middle schools and libraries around the state, is filled with books and educational material on the Holocaust and genocide.
Decorated by middle schoolers in the metro Atlanta area, the trunks will allow students participating in the project to express their social conscience, sensitivity, appreciation of diversity and respect for all people.
State Rep. Ed Rynders was instrumental in kicking off the program in Leesburg and was present at the presentation, as was Holocaust survivor Willi Bruenner, who was 9 years old when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Vienna, Austria.
He and his family spent seven months under German occupation before they boarded a boat for New York City and freedom.
“I think it’s important that the younger generation learn about the Holocaust because some of the causes of it are still around,” Bruenner, 82, said. “Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice still exist — especially in the Middle East. They hate our guts.”
The Leesburg trunk was decorated in Roswell by Crabtree Middle School Students.
The use of art and history unifies students of various backgrounds and beliefs, connecting them through their experiences learning about the Holocaust.
The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, the Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Department of Education are working in concert to ensure the Holocaust Learning Trunk Project will cultivate positive character development and foster students’ understanding of the importance of good citizenship.