By: Staff Writer Ishika Chawla
Holocaust survivor Sonia Korn-Grimani visited MSJ on January 29 to discuss her experiences growing up during the Holocaust and being a victim of the Hitler regime.
Her talk was intended to supplement the Holocaust and genocide unit for sophomore students from English teachers Katherine Geers’, John Boegman’s, Jennifer Moore’s, and Ryan Marple’s classes all attending Grimani’s speech.
As students filed into C-120, the first sound to be heard was opera music, a testament to Grimani’s musical past. Then Grimani launched into her story, first giving students a background of the perpetrators of the Holocaust itself and then describing how the Holocaust affected her own life as a Jewish girl in Germany. After being declared an enemy of the state, Grimani and her family immigrated first to Belgium, then to France, and back to Belgium. There, she was hidden in a Catholic orphanage, where she was isolated from her parents and essentially starved for years. It was here that she developed her passion for singing and music, which she later pursued for the rest of her life.
On D-Day, Grimani was reunited with her immediate family, and the rest of her relatives were reported missing or dead from concentration camps around Poland and Germany. Grimani and her family then moved to Australia, where she continued her education and worked in television, film, linguistics, singing, and teaching. In 2012, Grimani released her novel, Sonia’s Song, an autobiography documenting her experiences during and after the war. At the end of her lecture, Grimani stated that the two things that she wanted students to take away from her speech were to “Give something to the world… and let your ambition go towards improving and not having all of those wars.”
In reference to Grimani’s speech, English Teacher John Boegman said, “I think [the students] appreciated her taking the time to talk with them about her experiences and it makes the history that we study human and real, not abstract and academic… The relevance of our studies is made so genuine that way.”
Photos by: Staff Writer Richard Zhou