ADVERTISEMENT

“No matter how long the night is, the dawn will always be brighter.” Many people may have heard this quote before. However, when an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor looks you in the eyes and tells you this, the impact is remarkable.

Gerda Weissmann Klein, author of the memoir “All But My Life,” the book “The Blue Rose” and several other books, visited Mount St. Mary Academy in the fall for a stage adaptation of “The Blue Rose.”

Klein said after the Holocaust, she realized there were still people suffering all around the world – people were being discriminated against because of who they are. “The Blue Rose” was written about Klein’s neighbor Jenny, who was born with many disabilities. The book teaches important life lessons – of acceptance and love for everyone – to people of all ages.

The play, which was directed by Darleen Pickering Hummert, had a cast of young local actors that brought Klein’s breathtaking book to life, including Kelsie Skinner, a freshman at Kenmore East High School; Bryan Jones, a freshman at Kenmore East High School; Adam Kluge, a seventh--grader at Benjamin Franklin Middle School; Duncan Lattanzio Jr., a senior at West Seneca West High School; and Abbeni Crysta-Salome Dixon, a student at Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.

After the show, Klein held a question-and-answer period with the audience.

The first question asked was “After all you experienced, how did you keep your faith in God?”

She told the audience that during her Holocaust experiences, sometimes her faith was the only thing she had. When things were the darkest, she looked up at the sky and saw the bright stars.

“When you are happy, write yourself a note about why you are happy, then seal it and open it and read it the next time you are sad,” Klein said. “In the same way, write yourself a letter when you are sad, and open it a couple weeks later and you will realize that the things you were sad about aren’t even problems anymore.”

And, she added, “Never, never, never give up!”

The Holocaust Studies class at Mount Mt. Mary’s had a chance to meet with Klein during her visit.

“To me, Mrs. Weismann Klein is a symbol of strength and living proof that people can remain kind after tragedy,” said Elise Walsh, a junior at Mount St. Mary Academy.

“I believe that meeting and speaking with Gerda Weismann Klein made studying the Holocaust ‘more real,’ ” said Jennifer Pitz-Jones, the Holocaust Studies teacher at Mount St. Mary’s. “It is one thing to learn about something that happened through reading a book or even watching a film. But meeting with a survivor gave an entirely new perspective and human element to it.

“We were all humbled by the experience, especially her statements of how grateful she was for the opportunities that life in the United States brought her, something that we may take for granted. After this experience, I think the words that the girls used most were, amazing, grateful and awesome.”

Rebecca Brandel is a freshman at Mount St. Mary Academy.