Friday, May 07, 2010

Rising Starr Student Honors Child Holocaust Survivor

Shannon McKillip displays the wall hanging she quilted in honor of Inge Auerbacher along with Mariella Crea, a speaker from The Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta, who gave a presentation about her mother who helped save Jews from concentration camps.

An assignment on the Holocaust has created a special friendship between a student and child survivor of a Nazi concentration camp.

Every year eighth graders in Suzanne Carey’s language arts classes at Rising Starr Middle are required to do a brief biography on a child who was in the Holocaust. This is part of the unit on The Diary of Anne Frank.

Most biographies are done on children who died in concentration camps, but eighth grader Shannon McKillip found, after some Internet research, that her child was actually a survivor.

Inge Auerbacher was sent to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia when she was seven years old. She was lucky, only one percent of the 15,000 children there survived. She was 10 years old when she was released.

She now lives in New York City and is a lecturer and inspirational speaker. Shannon contacted Auerbacher via email to let her know that she was going to honor her by planting a flower in the school’s Holocaust Children’s Memorial Garden as well as quilt a butterfly wall hanging in celebration of her life. She asked for her favorite flower and colors.

Honored that Shannon had selected her for the project, Auerbacher emailed pictures of her hometown in Kippenheim, Germany, her immediate family and the star she had to wear in the concentration camp.

“One teenager from my camp wrote a poem, ‘I Will Never See Another Butterfly.’ The butterfly was yellow and it is also the color of the stars we had to wear. I think any yellow flower for the garden would be just wonderful,” Auerbacher wrote.

Shannon chose a Yarrow plant for the garden. She quilted a wall hanging with a butterfly motif, the symbol for children who died in concentration camps, and incorporated the pictures that Auerbacher sent to her. Shannon and Auerbacher have exchanged several emails since the project began. Most recently, Shannon sent her pictures from the garden and of the wall hanging.

“My dearest Shannon, oh my gosh, my tears are flowing,” she said in response the photographs. “I shall treasure these forever. I must meet you in the future, and I want to see my flower blooming in the garden.”

Shannon says she hopes to meet Auerbacher someday, but until then, she is surprising her by sending the wall hanging as a gift. Much of it is hand quilted and took about a month to complete.
“I have been quilting since I was five years old. My grandmother is a very good quilter and she inspired me to quilt,” Shannon says.
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