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College displays Holocaust art

Jillian Barwick | Wednesday, November 9, 2011

After more than 65 years since the end of World War II, students at Saint Mary’s are still learning about the lasting effects the Holocaust had on its victims and its survivors.

Misti Garner, a teacher with the School City of Mishawaka, introduces the “Children of the Holocaust” art exhibit in Spes Unica Hall, which features 50 pieces of art and poetry, as well as two sculptures, Wednesday.

Garner worked with local students, ages 9 to 17, to read, discuss, interpret and express their feelings about the Holocaust through art and poetry.

“These kids are street-wise,” Garner said. “They know about the prejudices between blacks and whites, but that is the only prejudice they knew about.”

Garner and her students studied the Holocaust for an entire year and during part of the summer as well. While learning the vivid details about death camps and how Nazi soldiers treated their prisoners, the students were sad and shocked, Garner said.

“The students did not realize that this type of suffering could exist because of faith,” Garner said. “They did not know what being Jewish was.”

At the end of the display, the pieces of artwork told some of the students’ own stories of suffering through poetry and paintings.

“My students told me, ‘If those people can survive the Holocaust, then I can survive what I’ve been through,’ which really resonated in me,” Garner said.

Garner said her students learned that they were not alone in their suffering through their study of the Holocaust.

“The theme throughout the exhibit is the degree of suffering people in the Holocaust endured,” Garner said. “The students felt that they were the only people suffering in society, but now, after learning about the Holocaust, they see there are more people they did not know about who suffer also.”

The art exhibit at Saint Mary’s is a part of a week of events commemorating Kristallnacht, the official beginning of the violence against Jews in Nazi Germany on Nov. 9, 1938, which led to the Holocaust.