Huntington Beach High School sophomores, venturing through the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng) (Elisha Stenseng)
Huntington Beach High School sophomores, venturing through the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng)

Elisha Stenseng

Sophomore Holocaust Museum Trip

May 31, 2023

Over the duration of April, Huntington Beach High School (HBHS) sophomore classes received a remarkable opportunity to attend the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles. Students walked through the museum with a knowledgeable tour guide looking upon the many artifacts and images collected from the Holocaust in 1933-1945. Additionally, the students got to speak with a survivor of the Holocaust, a valuable opportunity as this is the final generation that will have the chance to speak with a survivor. 

HBHS sophomore, Abbie Richman expressed her opinion when she first entered the museum. She said, “When I initially entered the building it made me really emotional to see these real-life objects collected from the Holocaust.” 

Childhood belongings of Jewish survivor John Glass are displayed within the Museum. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng)

There were a multitude of artifacts within the walk-through, each with its own stories and communities behind them. For instance, on display within the museum is the childhood belongings of a Jewish Holocaust survivor, John Glass. According to the display, Glass was fired from his job solely for his religion. As Germany became an increasingly threatening environment for German Jews, the Glass family attempted to flee. In 1939, the Glass family eventually secured passage to the United Kingdom with the aid of Quakers. Nazi Germany restricted Jews from bringing personal belongings; John was 3-years-old and only allowed to withhold his coat, a spoon, and a miniature toy.  Leaving his old home, friends, and belongings behind, he immigrated to the United Kingdom and eventually to the United States in 1940. Later in life, Glass went on to become a political activist and sociologist in California, giving credit to his perseverance and life experiences to impact 

Display two of anti-Semitic children’s novels published during the Holocaust. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng)

Another artifact presented within the museum from the Holocaust is a propaganda anti-Semitic schoolbook intended for children. The English translation of the book title is “Trust No Fox in a Green Meadow” and “No Jew upon His Oath” with over 100,000 copies printed. The novel targeted elementary education and promotes anti-semitic beliefs. 

The photograph display of Mary Bauer’s childhood prior to the Holocaust. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng)

Another relic found within the museum displays the childhood pictures of a Jewish survivor Mary Bauer. According to the captioning near the artifact, Bauer was born in Budapest Hungary in 1927, an only child to parents Irene and Mortiz Izsak.

The description continues to depict her life prior to the Nazi occupation of Budapest. It includes images of her and her mother with their family dog, Bobbi, Bauer on vacation in Brazil, and Bauer with her cousin pictured with a play airplane. Yet in 1944 with the Nazi occupation as anti-Jewish restrictions were implemented, life as she knew it completely altered for Bauer. Bauer was forced to wear a yellow star as an identification of her as a Jew whilst attending public school. Bauer’s entire family was relocated, with her father being taken into forced labor when she was only 15 years old. That was her last time seeing her father.

The rest of her family was taken to Auschwitz, with her final memory of her grandfather being him grasping onto his Hungarian military medals, hoping his loyalty to his country would save his life. Bauer and her mother miraculously survived multiple selections together in Auschwitz and then sent on a death march towards Ravensbrück and liberated by Soviet troops in 1945. When arriving back in Hungary, Bauer and her mother discovered that they were the only family members that survived. Years following, Bauer immigrated to the United States, now a mother to her two sons in Los Angeles. Bauer is currently heavily involved with the Holocaust Museum LA and is consistently a survivor speaker at the museum. 

Another section of the museum was a building with holes all over it. Each hole signifies a life lost and is a place for visitors to leave messages for the individuals who passed during the Holocaust.

This section specifically touched Huntington Beach sophomore, Natalie Mussalum, who said, “When we were outside and everyone put a message into one of the holes, it really brought my attention because I saw the messages sticking out, and I realized the number of people who died from the tragedy.”

Huntington Beach High School sophomore students enjoy learning from Jewish Holocaust survivors. (Photography by: Elisha Stenseng)

In addition, the HBHS students received the opportunity to speak to a Jewish Holocaust survivor. This is a significant privilege, considering the next generation of young minds will not be able to receive this opportunity. The students were split into groups and were given the opportunity to hear from a  survivor as they described their personal experiences during the Holocaust.

Following the story, students got to ask questions to the survivor regarding their past experiences and take pictures with them. One group spoke to a Holocaust survivor named Paul, who shared his experiences of leaving his family behind to finish schooling in Sweden. Specifically, Paul elaborated on how Nazis would conceal certain parts of the letters he would send in an attempt to contact his family.

This is undoubtedly a great honor and a rare opportunity to meet and learn from a living survivor. Huntington Beach High School sophomores received this wonderful opportunity, and sophomore student Lance Nguyen said, “I thought the speaker was very nice, and it was obviously a really hard time for them to speak about it, but I feel the speaker did a great job.” 

This trip to the Holocaust museum is significant because it keeps the memory of the 11 million victims who passed during the Holocaust alive. In addition, with anti-Semitism and failure to recognize the occurrence of the Holocaust being an endless issue within our society, continually educating the minds of our youth about the Holocaust and its significance is imperative. 

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