Washingtonville’s Annual Holocaust Guest Lecturer: Trudy Album
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Washingtonville Middle School’s annual Holocaust Program guest lecturer Trudy Album spoke to an auditorium full of students and parents on April 19. Part of the eighth grade social studies curriculum which takes students through World War II. Organized by history teacher Becki Wetzel, the Holocaust program culminates with daytime lectures by survivors and liberators as well as an evening program which is open to the public.
Each year, Wetzel brings survivors and liberators, now mostly in their 90s, to Washingtonville from the Holocaust Museum in Suffern, which is currently amassing an extensive archive of video interviews and audio recordings from people who experienced the Holocaust firsthand, to preserve history for future generations as time passes. Using modern technology, these virtual archives will be able to be experienced by listeners in classrooms across the country and around the world. The speakers during the daytime assembly were Alan Moskin, an American liberator born in New Jersey, and Dr. Alex Levy, a “hidden child” born in Berlin who escaped with his mother to Belgium and was hidden in a Catholic girls’ orphanage, coming to America in 1949.
The evening program highlighted Trudy Album, born in a small town in what is now Slovakia and transported to Auschwitz at age 15. She described the upside-down world of the death camps in detail, including how she was separated from her parents and younger sisters, all of whom were gassed. She survived her year in the camps by being selected for the work detail and a chance series of other “lucky” events, and described to the audience how strange the language her American liberators spoke sounded to her ears. She went back to her hometown where, out of 160 Jews, only five adults and 55 teenagers returned, and by fluke ran into a distant family member who, upon his arrival in the United States, sponsored her to follow. She learned English, worked as a nurse at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, and when a plastic surgeon offered to remove the numbered tattoo from her arm, she accepted. “I had the branding removed,” she said, “but it is forever in my heart: 817291.” She got married, had three children and seven grandchildren, and lives in Suffern.
To see interviews from the Holocaust Museum, visit http://www.holocauststudies.org
CAPTION : Alan Moskin with an eighth grader at the Washingtonville Middle School special Holocaust assembly