Carmel students learn from Holocaust survivor’s past
Ida Paluch of Skokie gets ready to tell her Holocaust survival story during a visit to Carmel Catholic High School Oct. 30. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 20, 2012 1:18PM
MUNDELEIN — “Some people think children don’t remember things, but that’s not true.”
Thus began the story Ida Paluch told James Schuster’s students Tuesday afternoon at Carmel Catholic High School. Schuster created the Holocaust & Genocide in the 20th Century class and has been teaching it since 2007.
Schuster was driven to develop the course after attending a conference held in partnership by the Anti-Defamation League and the Archdiocese of Chicago. Schuster is Jewish, but his interest in the Holocaust goes beyond his religion.
“It’s just such an important topic,” he said. “It needs to be taught and discussed.”
Paluch is Holocaust survivor and a unique one. She was only 6 months old when the Germans invaded her Polish homeland.
She told a harrowing tale of being adopted by a Catholic family, surviving the war, reconnecting with her biological father and eventually reuniting with her twin brother. He was living in Poland with his family.
Their story made national news when they reunited in 1995, as evidenced by the CNN clip Paluch shared with the class.
Paluch’s story is devastatingly moving. Her earliest memory is seeing her mother commit suicide after the Germans tried to separate her from Ida and her brother in the Jewish ghetto. She said she has nightmares about it to this day.
Speaking with Schuster’s students afterward, it was clear Paluch’s visit made an impact.
“It was really touching and also interesting to hear the story from someone who lived through it,” said Diya Verma. “Much better than just reading about it in a book.”
Carter Wietecha agreed. “I think it’s important that people hear things like this because, historically, we’re becoming so far removed now from the Holocaust. Hearing someone talk about it does a better job than any textbook ever could.”