YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- A guest speaker talked about Nazi-controlled Poland in the 1940s at a recent Women's History Month assembly at Fox Meadow Middle and High School.
“I am here today as your principal, in part, because of this woman," said Principal Ricki Butler, introducing Simone Scheumann.
Butler invited Scheumann to the school to speak about her mother, Erna Hilfstein.
Hilfstein was a Holocaust survivor and teacher who had a profound influence on Butler.
Scheumann began her presentation by painting a picture of life in Nazi-controlled Poland in the 1940s.
She described how her parents, teenagers at the time, were forced to move into a Jewish ghetto and then transported to a number of different concentration camps.
She described some of the “jobs” her parents were given by the Nazis, such as removing clothing from the dead and sorting their belongings into piles.
Despite horrific conditions and unspeakable personal losses, both of Scheumann’s parents survived the Holocaust and went on to get married, move to the United States and raise Simone and her brother.
Erna and Max were married in the ghetto, before being sent to the camps.
Hilfstein went on to earn multiple degrees. She taught at City University of New York and was a junior high teacher at Butler's school in the South Bronx.
“We were a tough group of students, but she loved us,” said Butler. “Here she was, an accomplished scholar, and she chose to teach inner city kids. I have the most warm and wonderful memories of this woman. She gave me a love of learning that I’ll never lose.”
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