Holocaust survivor tells her story to area youths

Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan talked about her days in a Nazi concentration camp during three stops in Ascension Parish last week.

Lazan, the author of “Four Perfect Pebbles,” spoke at St. Amant Middle and Dutchtown Primary schools Oct. 29 and St. Amant High School Oct. 30, Dutchtown Primary Principal Patricia S. Espinoza said.

Students at the three schools read Lazan’s book and were studying the Holocaust before her visit, Espinoza said. In her book, Lazan outlines her family’s life in Germany from the events preceding Kristallnacht to imprisonment in concentration camps to liberation in April 1945. Lazan was 11 years old when the family gained its freedom.

“When the eighth-grade ELA (English language arts) teachers found out about Marion’s story, they decided to have her come and speak,” said Laurin Hutchinson, St. Amant Middle librarian. “Excitement quickly spread through the school because it is not often that one gets the opportunity to hear about a firsthand experience of someone living through the Holocaust.”

Lazan challenged the St. Amant Middle students to accept and respect others even if they are different, Hutchinson said.

After Lazan spoke, students asked questions, “then Marion hugged many of the students and gave them each encouraging words,” Hutchinson said.

“She would have hugged the whole student body if time permitted,” she said.

Lazan’s mission, Espinoza said, is to speak to as many students as possible so they hear the story from a Holocaust survivor.

“Her presentation goes beyond the facts; she applies the lessons learned to society today,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza said Lazan talked about tolerance of others and encouraged the children to “not stereotype individuals based on religious belief, color, race or national origin.”

“She stresses the importance of positive thinking as well as creativity and inner strength when working to overcome adversity,” Espinoza said. “She warns students to be true to themselves and not blindly follow the leader.”