On Tuesday, Feb. 25, Windward’s Global Scholars and Global Studies students had the opportunity to participate in a unique conversation between Holocaust survivor Erika Jacoby and Ursula Martens, a former child member of the Hitler Youth. The conversation was facilitated by Windward Senior Tess Levy and Melanie Arias, Director of Global Programs, with support from Samara Hutman of the Remember Us and Righteous Conversations projects.
Erika and Ursula shared their memories of the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust itself, during which Erika was imprisoned at Auschwitz. The women also shared their experiences getting to know one another in Los Angeles decades after these events. Erika spoke with bravery and surprising humor about her desire to explore her fears through conversation with someone she initially viewed as “an enemy.” Ursula spoke with contrition about her own role in the Hitler Youth, and about how she came to view Hitler as a god-like figure. She also shared her guilt about her own families involvement in the Nazi party. Her conversations with young people and Erika reflect her desire to turn her guilt into a force for positive change. Said Honors Global Studies teacher Regan Buck-Bardeen regarding the experience: “Erika and Ursula spoke directly to our students, engaging them in a conversation about their responsibility to carry on the women’s stories. I thought that was such a powerful experience for our students, who heard these testimonies about the power of hate but also the constant presence of hope.”
Honors Global Studies focuses on examining genocide through multiple perspectives, and Erika and Ursula’s visit offered an unparalleled opportunity for students to engage in deep thinking and listening about these very different perspectives.