The SPECTRUM

Volume 31

The SPECTRUM

The SPECTRUM

Auschwitz Exhibit Field Trip

Students and families visit Ronald Reagan Library Auschwitz Exhibition, displaying over 700 real artifacts
A+prisoners+coat+on+display+along+with+other+artifacts.
Camryn Banafsheha ’27
A prisoner’s coat on display along with other artifacts.

Curriculum revolving around the Holocaust, a tragic event in world history, is increasing within schools as a precaution to prevent such events from occurring again. The statistics and political side of the story can be comprehended through textbook readings and classroom discussions; however, it is not until you experience something as impactful as the Ronald Reagan Library Auschwitz Exhibit that you will truly realize the unimaginable loss that this atrocity brought forth.

Co-creator Paul Salmons describes the exhibition as “an opportunity for people across the world to come and understand, learn more about what Auschwitz was, how it was created, and what it means to us today.”

Over 700 artifacts and images displayed throughout the exhibit bring stories of the past to life. From a married couple’s tallit – a Jewish prayer shawl – to the office desk of a Jewish businessman, it is a surreal experience to view such meaningful items up close and envision them in use only a few decades ago.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion directors Janine Jones and Jessica McKay offered students and families an opportunity to visit the exhibit. The goal of this school trip was to educate the community about the magnitude of the Holocaust and antisemitism in a unique manner.

“I think it’s seeing the real pictures, real artifacts. It hits home more that way rather than reading about it in isolation of a textbook, this is bringing it to life and it all really humanizes the experience,” McKay said. “I think that’s the amazing part of going to exhibits and really seeing right in front of your eyes an artifact from an incident in history.”

The event registration quickly filled up, a positive outcome that pleasantly surprised the DEI office. McKay shared that seeing this rare exhibit teaches important lessons that the school community can benefit from.

“This is something that you really don’t want to miss in LA this year. It was perfect timing given the incidents of antisemitism in our school community and in the larger world so we just jumped on it and said this is something we have to do,” McKay said. “I’m grateful for all of our partners in the work and the students who took time from a holiday weekend. It shows how important this is to them as a family.”

The exhibit is divided into multiple chapters, each corresponding to an audio guide. Quotes and stories written on the walls provide additional information, guiding the viewer through all aspects of the Holocaust and leaving no questions unanswered. By spending just a few hours in the museum, one can feel personally connected to the individuals to which the items once belonged.

Jones was particularly moved by a child’s shoe that was found at Auschwitz with a sock tucked into it. She shared that seeing children’s belongings served as a reminder of all the young lives that were taken.

“The small shoe with the sock was the one that still sticks with me. It just goes back to thinking about the children in this, that their young lives were taken so soon and so needlessly,” Jones said. “There’s just something about the robbing of adolescence and the robbing of adulthood from children is particularly cruel.”

Various videos were incorporated, as well, including a montage of survivors’ testimonies. Within this collage, the victims spoke about the importance of continuing to pass down the stories of the past, choosing kindness above all else and maintaining a sense of hope for the future.

“If we don’t talk about it, how are we going to know what happened and how are we going to prevent it from happening again? It’s really important that we talk about it,” Jones said. “If we are able to see people for who they are as humans, and if we are able to value them for who they are as humans, humanity has a chance.”

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About the Contributor
Camryn Banafsheha
Camryn Banafsheha ’27 is a first year Spectrum reporter. She enjoys interviewing people, and she truly loves to write as a part of the journalism team. She started off writing as a hobby and loves to write formally for school. She writes the weekly Wolverweek, which gives an overview of the week’s events, athletics, and some funny fails from students. Banafsheha plans on joining the Chronicle at the upper school and to continue pursuing her passion for journalism. 
“I just love to write. It’s a great way for me to express myself, and I feel like it’s always been something I’ve been able to do.”
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