Survivors tell students about Holocaust

May 01, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

Rose Meyer was 12 1/2 when Nazis collected her family and took them to a labor camp.

The day after they killed her brother, she was made to do hard manual labor without asking any questions.

Over the course of four years in the camp, her head was shaved twice.

"Things I have seen, you wouldn't believe," she said.

Meyer waved away the microphone set up in Sonora High School's library yesterday, saying she preferred to speak without it. The audience of 100 — mostly sophomores from Pete Smith's world cultures classes — sat still to hear her story.

Meyer came to speak from Stockton with Henry Ebstein, who fled to Shanghai from Germany during World War II.

Two others — Harry Horsthius and Fritzi Chandler, both of Tuolumne County — added their own experiences to give students a well-rounded picture of the Holocaust.

"This will impact students in different ways," Smith said. "It really reinforces the curriculum."

Ebstein, who was born in 1925 in Germany, talked about conditions in a concentration camp. He spared little detail.

Of the people who died, Ebstein said, 25 percent were Jewish children.

"There were babies born in these camps every day," he said. "People would simply throw the babies up in the air and shoot them. Period."

Horsthius, Sonora High's director of operations and maintenance, was born in 1938 in Holland. He remembers seeing people before they made it to concentration camps — as they boarded the cattle cars that would take them there.

"They would push and push until they got the doors closed," Horsthius said. "Women, children. It was horrific."

Fritzi Chandler, christened Elfrieda when she was born in Czechoslovakia, was given her nickname by her best friend, a Jewish girl. That girl never saw the inside of a concentration camp, though none would count her lucky.