MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Students at a Golden Valley school are learning about a painful part of history — in a very personal way. On Thursday afternoon, they met with a Holocaust survivor who has written stories about what his family went through.

About six million Jews were killed in Europe during World War II under the direction of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. The mass murder included more than a million children.

Students at Breck School have done more than just read about it. They’ve created an impressive response.

It is work they are proud of, drawings and essays, all about the events that led to the Holocaust. But it is the guest who has come to see this exhibit that has the eighth-graders at Breck so excited.

Joe Grosnacht, 90, grew up in Poland. When he was a teenager, he lost both parents and his five brothers to the Holocaust.

“I was always a tough kid when I was a teenager. I always saw don’t let any bad things take over, because I am too tough to let that happen,” Grosnacht said.

Grosnacht has been a regular visitor here, answering questions like “what’s with the number tattooed on your arm?”

He showed us his I.D. number that was put on his arm in a concentration camp.

“I didn’t have a name, so this was my name,” he said.

His son, Lenny, added, “They only did this in Auschwitz.”

The students created illustrations and wrote about what they learned from Joe.

“It makes me feel hopeful. If he can get through something so terrible, than other people can get through their day to day life,” eighth-grader Terrina White said.

Jacob Foster also worked on the exhibit.

“I will remember this a lot more because I am actually meeting someone who survived. It gives me a good understanding of what happened,” Foster said.

Grosnacht found the exhibit to be inspirational.

“There are two things you have to believe in. No. 1 is God. No. 2: hope. They go together,” he said.

A children’s book is in the works that will feature Grosnacht’s stories about the Holocaust. The illustrations will come from the artwork created by the students at Breck.


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