Ridge Report Writing and Photography Contest

This year, you can submit a short story, poetry piece, and/or photography connecting to one of three possible themes. Your options are "Hush", "Bang", and "Click". Be as creative as you want!

Entries will be accepted starting Monday May 1st 2017

The deadline for entering is Friday May 20th 2017

First place winners in each category (short story, photography, and poetry) will have their entry published on the Ridge Report website and will be awarded a prize.

Click on each category to submit and know about the rules and requirements.

Short Story

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Meeting a Holocaust Survivor

On Wednesday April 1st, all Grade 10 students taking history this semester had an opportunity a once in a lifetime experience. Our school was visited by a speaker named Bill, as survivor of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was the mass genocide of over 6 million Jews during World War 11. It has long been considered one of the darkest moments in history, but like any human mistake, we can learn from it, which is why Bill came to talk to us.

Bill had a very fascinating, yet sad story to share. He told us that he's 85 years old and this is his eight time recounting his tragic tale. He starts from the beginning, telling us what life was like for him in a town in Yugoslavia (which is now Serbia) as a child. Compared to most towns, there was very little discrimination in his community, where he had lots of friends, played soccer as a goalie, and had a relatively happy childhood. This changed in 1941 when Germany and Hungary conquered Yugoslavia and their town became part of Hungary. From that point, he faced abuse, discrimination, and bullying at school, from students and teachers alike.

His life in Yugoslavia ended when his family was relocated. They were sent on a cattle car, where they had no food, water, and hygienic facilities. After two days of going through this unpleasant ride, they arrived at a concentration camp in Poland. Bill''s dad and him were separated from his mother and sister and were prepared to work as a slave laborer. Later, when Bill asked an officer about his sister and mother, to his horror, he learned that since they were deemed unfit to labor, they were killed by poison gas. At the age of 12, Bill had lost his mother and his younger sister.

Later, his dad and him were sent to a labor camp in the heart of Germany, where they toiled under harsh conditions. Sickness was not tolerated at this camp either. On a recurring basis, the officers at the camp tested the health of the prisoners by having them stand on a chair. If they were too weak to manage that, they were sent to a sick camp. Gradually, Bill and his father got weaker, until one day, his father was unable to climb the chair and was sent to the sick camp. Bill accompanied his father to the camp, where his father developed a terrible fever. Eventually, his father died and Bill, a teenager on his own, lost his family entirely.

Nine days after the death of his father, in 1945, Bill was liberated. However, there was a bombing at the camp, not by the Germans, but the Americans rescuing them. They claimed it was friendly fire. In the ensuing chaos, Bill thought he heard babies crying, but he dismissed this as a hallucination and once he was free, he returned to Yugoslavia briefly, before being taken in by an uncle in Canada.

Bill's story was of loss and grief. He had suffered much, but his story had some lessons we can take away. Firstly, while Bill and his family were tormented, no one stood up for him. He shared a quote from Albert Einstein "There are some evil people. Some good people. But most people just do nothing and let the bad people continue what they're doing." You have to wonder, if you were back in 1940, would you be one of those people who'd stand around quietly, or resist the lies told by the Nazis. And after hearing the horrors of the Holocaust first hand, we were left re-evaluating our own troubles. and how meaningless they are compared to what Bill had to go through. We have so much, and yet we show such little gratitude. Bill imparted a final message. "When you go outside, kiss the ground/ We are in a great country and lucky to have such great lives. Kiss your parents and hug your friends."

Before he left, he added one final thought to his story. Years and years after he went into the Holocaust, he learned that the cries of babies were indeed real. Apparently, seven women entering the camps were pregnant, which was noticed by a high ranking German officer. That officer made the decision to defy orders and risk everything to hide away these women and have them taken care of and their babies delivered. In the bombing, he sent away the babies and their mothers, managing to save 5 out of seven of them and by doing so, ensured the preservation of the babies, their children, and grandchildren. His final remark showed that when one man made a selfless decision that jeopardized his position, he can make a difference that will impact people 70 years later. 

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