A story of survival and remembrance

Holocaust survivor Danny Goldsmith visited Cinnaminson Middle School to share his story as a child refugee during WWII.

Danny Goldsmith, child survivor of The Holocaust, shares his experience hiding from soldiers in Nazi-occupied Belgium during WWII with Cinnaminson Middle School’s eighth grade class. Seated beside Goldsmith is fellow member of The Jewish War Veterans of America Post 697, Alan Silverberg.

Stephen Finn

The Sun

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Since his retirement, Holocaust survivor Danny Goldsmith has been on a mission to spread his story to young people, who he believes are increasingly less aware of the horrors Jewish people suffered under Nazi occupation during World War II.

As the number of people alive during that time dwindles, Goldsmith believes it is now more important than ever young people hear from someone who was there, who can remind them these horrific events really happened to real people.

“You are the last generation that can hear stories firsthand from survivors,” Goldsmith told Cinnaminson Middle School’s eighth-grade class during a presentation on Tuesday, March 19.

Along with fellow members of the Jewish War Veterans of America Post 697, Goldsmith came to the school to share his story as a child refugee hiding from Nazi soldiers in occupied Belgium during the war with students who listened attentively to his incredible story of survival.

“The children have already learned about the Holocaust in history, but now I am a living witness telling my story and my experience during the Holocaust,” said Goldsmith.

Leading up to the presentation, reading teachers Garwood Bacon and Theresa Crowley had their students read a Broadway play adaptation of “The Diary of Ann Frank” and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s “Night.”

“Our students were clearly interested in his personal eyewitness testimony and are lucky to be part of the last generation to meet a living survivor,” said Bacon.

Goldsmith has taken it upon himself, as part of a waning group of survivors still living, to inform the next generation and ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

“Lately they have had statistics coming out that the Holocaust is being forgotten, especially with millenials,” said Goldsmith. “By next year, there will be only 67,000 Holocaust survivors left.”

Although students read about the Holocaust in school and have seen old black-and-white pictures from the time period, Goldsmith believes hearing stories firsthand really brings the experience home for them.

“I’ve had feedback from teachers who have told me what a difference it makes to the children to have a live person tell the story versus watching it on TV or reading a book,” said Goldsmith.

This was not Goldsmith’s first visit to the middle school. After speaking at the school last year, he was presented with a quilt made by students to thank him for sharing his story. Each square on the quilt featured messages from students like, “good always triumphs over evil,” “accept one another” and “we will never forget.”

This year, he took the quilt from its spot on his dining room wall so that it could be displayed behind him as he presented.

“It shows that they got the message before I even spoke,” said Goldsmith.

He hopes the children who hear his story leave knowing what can happen when people give into hate and how to live your life free of such destructive thinking.

“My message basically is a message of not hating. What I’m hoping is that they become better human beings by not hating, by not discriminating, by not bullying, by learning that there are other ways of being good human beings,” said Goldsmith.

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