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Holocaust survivor shares life story with Pacific Ridge students

Holocaust survivor Jerry Weiser recently spoke to Pacific Ridge students during a virtual presentation.
Holocaust survivor Jerry Weiser recently spoke to Pacific Ridge students during a virtual presentation.
(Courtesy)

Sophomores at Carlsbad’s Pacific Ridge School recently hosted Holocaust survivor Jerry Weiser for a discussion about his experience during and after World War II.

Weiser was born as Hanri Juraji in Slovakia in 1941. When he was three months old, his father was taken by the German SS and never returned. At six or seven months old, his mother had him smuggled out of the Bratislava Ghetto before she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A sympathetic priest at a nearby church delivered him to a family outside the city who cared for him during the war. Afterward, Weiser was taken on one of the last kindertransports out of Slovakia with the intended destination of Israel. Unable to reach Israel, he was taken with other Jewish refugee children across Europe to the Clonyn Castle near Dublin, Ireland. During his childhood, Weiser had his name changed five times to protect his identity. He was eventually reunited with his mother, who survived the camps, in Israel in 1949.

Pacific Ridge’s sophomores are examining the history, context, and importance of memorials as part of their Modern World History curriculum. Weiser’s visit marked the launch of the Memorial Project, for which students will assess memorials from WWI, WWII, and the Holocaust, and create their own memorials for significant historical events using various forms of media and expression. The project culminates in a museum exposition of their creations.

Jennifer Fenner, a history teacher at Pacific Ridge who organized Weiser’s visit, expressed her appreciation for the opportunity.

“Personal accounts illuminate history in ways no text or other medium can. It’s important for students to engage with history as directly as possible and consider ways to keep it alive and relevant,” she said.

For more information, visit www.pacificridge.org.


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