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Laupheim, Germany, 2014.

Laupheim, Germany, 2014.

Laupheim, Germany, 2014.

Laupheim, Germany, 2014.

Students line up to hug Irene after a presentation. 

Students line up to hug Irene after a presentation. 

Clague Middle School bestowed the following honor.

Clague Middle School bestowed the following honor.

School Talks

For more than 30 years I have told my Holocaust story to numerous students in middle and high schools in the States, Israel, and Germany. My goal has been to transmit lessons I have learned from the Holocaust, to help youth to understand the gravity of genocide, to develop their appreciation of freedom, and human rights and to motivate them to stand up against hatred, prejudice and racism. Excerpts from my talks to students are included in the documentary NEVER A BYSTANDER.

The students are amazing, constantly expressing their affection for me and appreciation of my story and message. They send me countless cards and artwork, some of which you can see here.

 

A Later Lesson in Forgiveness

One of my most memorable school talks was to 400 students in Laupheim, Germany in 2014. Until that day I had not spoken German for decades. I couldn't, because of the painful memories associated with it from the Holocaust. I still understood the language, but I responded to questions in English or Dutch. A student asked me if I still spoke German. I hesitated, and then realized that it was time to let go of my hatred of the language. The German easily and gracefully fell from my lips and I felt a weight lifted from me. I was 83 and still had lessons to learn.