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Elementary School Students Meet with the Daughter of two Holocaust Survivors

Landing and Connolly fifth-grade classes take a field trip to Glen Cove’s Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center

GLEN COVE, NEW YORK (MAY 2022) — Fifth grade students at Landing and Connolly Elementary School recently had a two-day field trip to Glen Cove’s Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center, where they toured the museum’s historical exhibits and listened to the daughter of two Holocaust survivors tell her family’s heart wrenching story of resilience in the face of hatred.

The Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center – founded in 1992 by a group of Holocaust survivors, clergy and politicians – offered students a first-hand look at some of the artifacts documenting the atrocities committed against the Jewish people and other minority groups targeted by the Nazi party. The trip is part of the district’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and accepting environment by shining a light on the ripple affect caused by hate and intolerance.

“It’s so important for our students to learn about one of history’s darkest times so that they understand that events like the Holocaust don’t happen overnight and that standing up to bullying, racism or bigotry is an imperative to preventing anything like it from happening again,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maria Rianna.

Some of the presentations in the museum include the “Displaced Persons” exhibition, a presentation on the resurgence of Jewish life after World War II; the “Kindertransport” exhibition, which illustrates the rescue effort that brought thousands of Jewish refugee children to Britain between 1938 and 1940; and the “Never Again is Happening Again” exhibition, which was created with the Islamic Center of Long Island and documents some of the horrors being committed against the Muslim community in places like Myanmar.

In addition to touring the museum, students experienced a virtual presentation from Evelyn Altenberg, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and learned about her family’s strife during World War II. Ms. Altenberg shared her family’s story through excerpts from letters and videos.

Her parents Lilo and Hans were born in Berlin, Germany, and planned to get married before the war started. Hans took the advice of a relative and got a job as a steward on the S.S. Groenlo, which was traveling to America, and left the ship when it docked. He wasn’t permitted to stay, however, so he sought refuge in the Dominican Republic and lived there with other Jewish Europeans.

Hans begged Lilo to come with him when he fled Europe, but she didn’t want to leave her family behind. They traveled to Holland and she followed, hiding family jewelry in a used napkin.

The Nazis soon invaded Holland and Lilo’s family had to hide in a bomb shelter 10 to 15 times a day. Then, one early morning, the Nazis found her family and  told them to pack one bag per person and sent them to the concentration camps.  

Lilo’s aunt, parents and other relatives were killed in different concentration camps, but the Nazis decided to keep Lilo alive because she was young and considered valuable for work. She spent three years in nine different concentration camps, including Auschwitz, before she was liberated by the Red Cross at the end of the war.

Lilo and Hans were reunited by the Red Cross in Sosua after the war and finally married. They settled in New York and lived there until 1991, when they moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. They had two children – Evelyn and her brother Les – and four grandchildren. Hans died in 2004, followed by Lilo in 2011. 

Fifth grade students at Landing and Connolly Elementary School recently had a two-day field trip to the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove. 

Students toured the museum’s historical exhibits documenting the atrocities committed to the Jewish people and other minority groups targeted by the Nazi party. 

In addition to touring the museum, students experienced a virtual presentation from Evelyn Altenberg, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. 

The experience taught students how bigotry and bullying paved the way for the Holocaust and how similar horrors continue to happen throughout the world today.