WARREN, NJ - “America saved my life,” Erwin Ganz expressed to the entire eighth grade class at Warren Middle School (WMS), on Tuesday, April 17. Ganz, one of the last survivors of Kristallnacht, came to share his personal story with the 8th graders at Warren Middle School.
Ganz was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929. He lived there until he was three, then his family was forced to leave, and they relocated to Bernkastel-Kues, Germany. Ganz was eight years old when Kristallnacht occurred. In 1939, at the age of nine, Ganz and his family immigrated to the United States, where they settled in Newark.
Ganz shared his experiences as a young Jewish boy, living in Germany during the Nazi regime. Ganz admits his family attempted to shelter him from all of the terrible things going on around him; however, he witnessed the destruction of his home, his grandmother's shop and his community. Ganz’s powerful story ended with an opportunity for students and members of the audience to ask questions.
William Kimmick, Director of Curriculum, coordinated Mr. Ganz’s visit to WMS. "As part of the grade 8 ELA curriculum, students experience two core books about the Holocaust. Night, by Elie Wiesel and Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography, by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. Having Mr. Ganz present his experiences during Kristallnacht was invaluable. Thank you to Mr. Ganz for sharing his story with the Warren Middle School students and staff," Kimmick said.
Meryl Lettire, Art Teacher at WMS, has since coordinated an interdisciplinary project for the grade 8 students based on Ganz’s presentation. “My goal is to have students learn from Mr. Ganz’s presentation and react to it using Literature and Art activities to make the experience more personal and enriching,” said Lettire. Using their Chromebooks, students listened to Ganz’s presentation again during their language arts classes on April 17 and 18, highlighting words and phrases that had an impact on them. With the list of words and phrases, students then created a found poem, which included powerful visual designs to add to their piece.
The found poems will be exhibited at WMS in June, and Lettire hopes that Ganz will come back to see the students interpretations of his story.
Photo Credit: Warren Township Schools
Photo 1: Warren Middle School eighth grade class paying close attention to Erwin Ganz’s account of his life as a young Jewish boy in Germany during the Nazi regime.
Photo 2: Mr. Erwin Ganz’s vibrant smile following his presentation to the eighth grade class at Warren Middle School.
Photo 3: Right to Left, Mr. George Villar, Middle School Principal, thanking Mr. Erwin Ganz for sharing his story with the eighth graders at Warren Middle School.
Photo 4: grade 8 students, Bella DeMarzo and Xavier Ainsworth creating their found poems during language arts class, after viewing Mr. Ganz’s presentation on their Chromebooks.
Photo 5: grade 8 student Oliver Cobas listening closely to Mr. Ganz’s powerful message.
Photo 6: grade 8 students Erik DaSilva back, Stefani Cooper-left and Josephine Dinardi -right, creating their found poems during language arts class, after viewing Mr. Ganz’s presentation on their Chromebooks.
Photo 7: grade 8 student George Tsimis sharing his found poem that was inspired by Mr. Erwin Ganz’s presentation.
Photo 8: grade 8 students Sheridan Ameo and Rebecca Schell sharing their found poems inspired by Mr. Erwin Ganz’s presentation. .
Photo 9: grade 8 student Sasha Bergners sharing her found poem inspired by Mr. Erwin Ganz’s presentation.