By Kayleigh Ryan
He burst into the apartment and told them to pack their things. A young Bea Karp wanted to pack her beloved porcelain doll, but the Nazi told her she could not bring the doll where she was going. Karp’s instincts told her that he would take the doll for himself.
“I said,‘If I can’t have that doll then you can’t have it either’ and I took my doll that I loved so much and I threw her down on the floor. Her face, which was made of porcelain, broke into many, many pieces.” Karp said that she was so upset that she couldn’t even remember her other family members in the house during this incident.
Bea Karp was the featured speaker for the sophomore class as a culminating activity after reading Elie Weisel’s Holocaust memoir Night. “We try to invite a Holocaust survivor to speak each year to complement our Night unit in English 10,” English teacher and event organizer Sarah Breetzke said. Holocaust speakers are available in March as part of The Week of Understanding put on by the Institute for Holocaust Education.
Karp shared the story of her childhood in Nazi Germany, living with her parents and her younger sister. When her extended family fled Germany, Karp’s father, an Orthodox Jew, decided to stay. “He thought God would intervene or a country would intervene or somebody would. But nobody did,” Karp said. “Therefore Hitler was able to go on and do what he wanted to do.”
Karp also recounted the experience of when a Nazi forced she and her family out of their home.
After spending time at several camps, both of Karp’s parents ended up at Auschwitz, the death camp, but she reunited with her younger sister and moved in with an aunt and uncle in London after the war.
The speech deeply affected sophomore Melanie Maguire, so much so that she went up to speak with Karp afterwards. “I called her story really inspiring and I told her how her story reminded me of how we’re fighting for LGBT rights today,” Maguire said.
Karp’s overall message for the students was to learn from the hurt of the Holocaust so that type of attitude can be eliminated. “Prejudice is the root to all hate and it should not still be so prevalent today,” Karp said.