On October 18, Vinograd came to The Hill to provide students with a historical overview of the Holocaust. Vinograd started his story by describing his childhood, “I was just a young boy in France, I never thought the events in far away Germany could affect me.” When Germany invaded France in 1940, Vinograd said he realized that the world is connected and events in far way places can have monumental effects. Vinograd emphasized the lesson he learned as a child: “Don’t think that if something bad happens to another person, it can’t happen to you.”
Vinograd made clear to the students that the Germans were not terrible people. Instead, Vinograd attempted to explain how Hitler was able to convince a good people to commit such terrible acts. “People, especially those who are suffering economically, often blame others rather than themselves.” Vinograd stressed that Hitler’s youth programs brainwashed Young people to support Nazism.
Alex Schott '20 noted Vinograd’s comments that the way to avoid this brainwashing is to teach children about equality. Schott commented, “My favorite message was when he said education is the key to preventing prejudice.”
Ben Washburne ’19 thought the speech was “an interesting history lesson.” Washburne continued, “I really enjoyed his story about the French Resistance.” Some students were intrigued by Vinograd’s personal story and wish he had elaborated. “It was an important story but I wish he had told it more powerfully. It would have been nice if he focused on his personal story rather than the history," commented AJ Marks '18.
Throughout his stories Vinograd imparted powerful messages to Hopkins students. Vinograd’s explanation of how harmful ideologies can become popular stuck with Zubin Kenkare ’19, who commented, “I found it enlightening. My favorite message was his fact about cancer: Cancer cells constantly travel throughout our body, but cancer only forms when it finds the right body part.” This was Vinograd’s analogy to the growth of prejudice.
Maliya Ellis ’19 explained why she thought Vinograd’s visit was valuable: “These kind of conversations are really special and important because the number of people who had first hand experience with the Holocaust are dwindling.”
Vinograd, himself, told Hopkins students that once he and the other survivors are gone, it is up to us to remember his story and continue the fight against oppressors.
On October 20, Betty Deutsch spoke in Assembly about her struggle to survive at Auschwitz and four other concentration camps.
As a young girl, Deutsch lived on a peaceful farm in Hungary. Life changed, though, when she and her family were forced to board trains and relocate to a Jewish ghetto. Their existence deteriorated as food became scarce and she was eventually separated from her family. Deutsch and her sister fought to survive and eventually made it out when Allied forces liberated Nazi Germany.
Deutsch’s story is full of pain and sorrow, yet she was willing to share with the Hopkins community. Lily Delise ’20 commented, “She was so functional and inspiring and it amazes me how she can so clearly share her story.”
Sydney Hirsch ’19 explained why she thought Deutsch’s story is crucial to hear, “Zakar. Always Remember. It’s an important message we learned at Hebrew School.” Deutsch, herself, stated that initially she did not want to share her story with her children. She felt it would be too much of a burden for them. After visiting Israel with other Holocaust survivors, Deutsch realized that it is important to share her story and show others the violence that hatred can produce.
Deutsch’s story impacted many Hopkins students. Ethan Silver ’20 said, “It is fascinating how she found the will to survive after her family died, and she continued to suffer in the concentration camps.”
Adwith Mukherjee ’19 commented, “All the details about her time at the concentration camp were so terrible. Her description of the smell by the crematorium stuck with me.”
Sammy Rivera ’21 thought Deutsch’s ability to create a new life was impressive. “I felt connected to it and I found it interesting how she was able to continue with life after her terrible experiences.”
Deutsch’s story brought to life an event that most students have only read about or seen pictures of. Delise said, “One of the things that struck me the most is that I had been to both Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in DC and had probably seen her photos on the walls, but then to see her in person and hear her own personal story is so much more powerful.”
Vinograd and Deutsch’s stories gave Hopkins an opportunity to learn about one of the most devastating losses of life in human history. Their stories show that hatred and prejudice can result in violent ends.