Carrie Moden, Fort Wayne, Indiana
In November, 2009, my English class was reading the book Night by Elie Wiesel. The students really enjoyed the book. After reading the book, I invited a friend, who is very knowledgeable about Jehovah Witnesses and the Holocaust, to talk to my classes. Her name is Kristi Keller.
Kristi’s presentation was very good. She had a lot of information. She kept the students’ attention and after the presentation, there were many questions asked on both parts, the students and the presenter. The information that she shared was educational and informative. I know that it made the students think about being courageous on taking a stand for what they believe in, as did the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know the students paid attention by the way they answered the questions that were asked of them.
I would like to express my appreciation for the presentation, and thanks to Mrs. Keller for the valuable information she presented to the class. Much of this information was provided through the Arnold-Liebster Foundation and their website at www.alst.org. I will be inviting Mrs. Keller to present this information to my classes next semester.
10th Grade English
7001 Coldwater Road
Northrop High School
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
December 22, 2009
Barbara Y. Pleasants, Iowa State University
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to recommend inviting Sandra Milakovich to your school or organization. She and her husband Greg do an excellent program on the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi Germany. I first met Sandra at a teacher’s conference several years ago at which I heard her do a brief presentation. I was impressed with her then and she provided me with very useful teaching materials.
I have taught a course on The Holocaust at Iowa State for many years and this fall I invited Sandra and Greg to speak to my class. My students keep journals, so I get a great deal of feedback from them about course content. I usually have Jewish Holocaust survivors come and, of course, this makes a great impression on the students. The response to the Jehovah’s Witness presentation was equally enthusiastic. I hope they will be willing to come back in future semesters.
The presentation was polished, well organized, and engrossing. It utilized testimony on film clips of survivors along with other moving accounts. The Witnesses are presented as a persecuted group who never abandoned their principles and who dared to speak out against the Nazis. In no way is the program an attempt to proselytize.
Sandra and Greg are delightful people who give of their time to spread a message of moral courage in the face of enormous evil. This is a message of great value.
Barbara Y. Pleasants, Ph.D.
Iowa State University of Science and Technology
253 Bessey Hall
Ames, Iowa 50010
Gretchen Berg, Chimacum, Washington
The age of technology has been praised for its many positive qualities and it has been blamed for many woes. In the case of my 7th grade class, I can praise it because with a laptop and a projector, I was able to introduce my 7th graders to this wonderful and humble woman known as Simone Arnold Liebster. We live in a small, rural town two hours from Seattle and it is not always easy to provide our students with culturally enriching experiences close to home. From the day they first learned about Simone until long after we said goodbye, my students opened their minds and hearts to absorb Simone’s powerful story and message of peace. For most, it was, without a doubt, the most memorable experience from their 7th grade year.
As an educator, figuring out how to make history real for young ones is a constant challenge – especially in this digital age. The materials provided by the Arnold-Liebster Foundation were extremely valuable to creating a memorable, touching experience for my students. The activities helped ensure that my students were fully prepared for understanding Simone’s individual experience. The Core Value/Pressures worksheet not only connected to what they have learned through our Holocaust unit, but it also connected to what we have been learning throughout the school year.
Several students read Simone’s book and their experience grew when they had the opportunity to view a previously recorded interview with Simone via the internet. When it carne time to develop questions to ask Simone, they put all of their learning about the Holocaust up to that point to use and created heartfelt, meaningful and thoughtful questions to learn more about how Simone’s experience as a young girl facing down the Nazi lion affected her life. By the time they completed their personal interview with Simone in the real-time videoconference, my students were visibly moved by the experience and could finally, truly, put a human face on this horrible event we call the Holocaust. They were able to identify with Simone and appreciate her ability to stand firm for her beliefs at a young age despite unbelievable pressure. If only we could all have that ability to stand up for what is right in the face of inhuman actions!
It didn’t take long for my students to make the connection that if only everyone would have stood up for morality and humanity, the Holocaust would never have been as devastating as it was. They then took the next step and made the connection that if they are able to stand up against hatred and bullying in its myriad of forms, then our school, our community, our world will be a better place to live in. What better lesson can we teach our young people as they seek guidance in this morally corrupt world we live in? Nothing is more powerful than first-hand experience and the Arnold-Liebster Foundation provides a critical service in arranging these powerful video-conferences for educators across the nation. Simone’s is a powerful and enriching story that everyone should hear and I am immensely grateful to have had this opportunity for myself and my students!
7th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies
Chimacum Middle School
91 W. Valley Road
July 8, 2009
Mrs. Heather Eustice, South Pekin, Illinois
Dear Simone Arnold Liebster,
I wanted to send a letter of thanks for what you did for my class. It is because of you and your willingness to give so generously of your experience that my class will have a better understanding of what happened during the reign of Adolf Hitler. I have read your story to my 5th grade classes for many years and I have always felt like it made a difference. This year was even more special because we were able to “meet” you during our webcam conference. It was nice to be able to put a voice and what you look like now with the picture I have of you in my head as a young girl when I read your story to my class. The one thing I enjoyed most about our conference was how you answered the children’s questions. You have every right to be angry and bitter after what happened to you, your family, and friends, but you never convey that when you respond to the questions. lnstead you focus on answering the questions honestly without focusing on all the negatives. I personally believe the faith that helped you get through your ordeal as a child still is very evident and continues to be a big part of who you are today. The one message that you referred to over and over was your love for Jehovah and how it made you strong so you could make good choices. This is something that children in this generation struggle with too. I think it is important that you let them know that they have a choice and that it isn’t always easy or popular to stand up for what you believe in. With this knowledge you have given them, I hope they will have the ability to make better choices as they grow up. In closing I would like to say it was a pleasure to be able to talk to you and get our questions answered. I am grateful for the opportunity that you provided for my class and will always think fondly of you, your story, and how you give of yourself so unselfishly.
Mrs. Heather Eustice
5th Grade Teacher
South Pekin Grade School
206 West Main Street
South Pekin, Illinois 61564
May 15, 2009