Holocaust survivor recounts experience at Auschwitz

Dora Sorell made it clear that she must keep telling her story to let everyone know about what the Nazis did to her people during the Holocaust.

On April 13, Sorell came to share the horrifying tale with Media Academy students in the auditorium. World History teacher Laima Haider arranged the event as part of a cross-curricular Holocaust unit.

Sorell was sent to a concentration camp because she was Jewish during World War II.

“I feel bad because people shouldn’t be able to go through this,” said sophomore Anthony Coleman.

Sorell’s life before the camp was typical. She worked as a tutor for children and also worked in a movie theater with her brother. Times were hard, but they survived, said Sorell.

In the 1942, she was sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz. Sorell was a teen at the time.

She rode away from her town in a cattle wagon packed with people with no sunlight, benches or bathrooms.

“It was scary because you never know what would happen next,” said sophomore Martin Ortiz about Sorell’s narrative.

Sorell explained how the train would stop and they would throw the bodies of people who had died off the deportation trains.

As soon as Sorell arrived at the camp, she was separated from her brothers and father. Some Jews were sent to the gas chamber and some were selected to work at the camp. Sorell, now 88, said that 80 percent of her village was killed at Auschwitz.

“It’s horrible what happen to her and her family,” said sophomore Jenny Saechao.

Sorell was able to get out of the camp through luck and wit. There were Germans looking to hire 200 workers for another camp. Sorell was not selected, so she told the Germans she was a skilled artist and could be useful at the other camp. The factory owners took her as a worker.

Before Sorell visited, sophomores read excerpts from her book “Tell the Children, Letters to Miriam” in their history, English and Media Studies classes.

Sorell started to write the book because she wanted to let her first grandchild, Miriam, know what her family went through during the Holocaust.

Sophomore Shantal Berry felt Sorell’s visit brought history to life.

“It felt great learning about the Holocaust in [Haider’s] class because we were able to meet an actual Holocaust survivor,” said Berry.

Sophomore Neesah Grayson was also gratefulfor the visit. “Her story has impacted my life,” said Grayson. “I’m thankful that she shared her story with me. She is a really strong woman.”

Teachers cooperated to teach a Holocaust unit in Media Studies, World History and English. Students learned about another Auschwitz survivor in Sonja Totten-Harris’ English 2 class. They read the memoir “Night” by Elie Wiesel. Wiesel was also a teen during the Holocaust.

Students in Lisa Shafer’s Media Studies class did several activities involving the Holocaust, including writing newspaper stories such as this one.