For the past seven weeks eighth-graders at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School have been learning various aspects of World War II, and on Tuesday they received a surprise lecture from Holocaust survivor Bernard Sheer.

The lecture took place in the school’s multipurpose room where Sheer spoke about the horrors he faced while surviving the concentration camps.

Eighth-grade social studies teacher Jane Anderson felt students would benefit from hearing from a Holocaust survivor, since they are learning about it in class.

“Students right now are studying World War II in their social studies classes and in their language arts classes they have been reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” so what we decided to do was combine this situation,” she said. “I’m a believer in showing them living history.”

Anderson contacted the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors Association, where they were able to put her in touch with Sheer.

“I think what they need to realize is that the Holocaust was a part of history that happened, and to learn that discrimination happened with Hitler’s regime,” Anderson said. “The students need to understand that discrimination was alive and well then, and is something that we don’t want to happen again.”

The discussion also played a part for students to be knowledgeable toward the fact that discrimination should not be tolerated in any circumstances.

“We want students to understand that there should be acceptance of people… just because one person does something bad doesn’t mean the whole group is bad,” she said.

After the lecture, Sheer received a standing ovation from the 400 students inside the multipurpose room.

Jacob Barnes said it was interesting to hear from Sheer on what life inside the concentration camps was really like.

“We hear about the camps and we hear that people were forced to work, but knowing what they did was nice to know,” Barnes said. “I liked listening to somebody who was able to survive and tell their story about what it was like, where they went afterward, what they did beforehand, and when they were forced to go to these camps.”

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