Local historian and retired teacher, Paul LaRue, recently spoke at a program in Columbus that is attempting to help increase resources and information that teachers in Ohio can receive.
Between 2003 and 2010, LaRue’s research history class at Washington High School worked on a project started by the Library of Congress called the “Veterans History Project.” The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
“The class interviewed local veterans for the project,” LaRue said during an interview Thursday. “We ended up interviewing 54 veterans for the project, which included World War II veterans and about half of them were African Americans. What we didn’t realize at the time we were conducting these interviews, was that a good number of them participated in the liberation from concentration camps during World War II.”
LaRue continued to explain that The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE), which sponsored the events LaRue has spoken and will speak at, began to put together an educational guide for a Holocaust Memorial on the State House grounds. During this process, the CHHE found that LaRue’s class had written some of the interviews with local veterans for the Veterans History Project. This led to the formation of the guide, which brings first hand accounts from WWII and the Holocaust together for an educational resource that helps educators teach the material in a more efficient and interesting way.
“We have two biographies from local veterans, both who have passed away, in this education guide,” LaRue said. “The first is George Walker who we interviewed in 2003 or 2004. He was a local who had, while in Europe as an officer in counter-intelligence, discovered the Hadamar Institute. This was one of the secret hospitals used by the Nazis to kill mentally disabled people. The second veteran we interviewed that is included in this guide is Buddie Branch, an African American veteran who served in the 761st Tank Battalion. He helped to liberate Dachau, one of the worst concentration camps and also received the Brown Star for bravery, which was relatively unheard of by African American veterans due to discrimination.”
LaRue said the first workshop, which was held on Wednesday at the Ohio State House in Columbus, helped to bring the resource guide to teachers. He said that some teachers traveled for a couple hours to attend and he ended up speaking for about an hour on the liberators. The workshop will be held again on Tuesday, Dec. 8 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Participants will receive the brand new “Ohio Holocaust Survivor & Liberators Memorial Educator Guide.”
“The creation of the Educational Guide came out of the debut of the Holocaust and Liberators Memorial that is located on the lawn,” director of education with the CHHE, Alexis Storch said. “This is only one of two memorials to the Holocaust that is on a state house lawn. The guide is thanks to the generosity and support of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati who tasked us with creating an educational component with the memorial. I met Paul a few years back when he was presenting on the September 11 attacks and we bonded over the way he taught and the way to make a connection with students in the classroom. The Holocaust Center was just so excited to contact him to help with the debut of the guide and to work with the memorial as well.”
LaRue finished the interview by discussing the importance this guide has to teachers. He said that teachers are now busier than ever and this guide will help them. Either to make teaching the subject more efficient or providing a unique learning experience, it is a handy tool to utilize in the classroom, LaRue said. The event has no cost.
To RSVP to the event in Cincinnati, contact Alexis Storch at (513) 487-3055 or email [email protected] For more information about the CHHE visit the website at www.holocaustandhumanity.org
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy