VOORHEES, N.J. (CBS) – Eight graders at Kellman Brown Academy in South Jersey are learning about the Holocaust this year through a special project that is turning their class into a documentary film.
“Names Not Numbers is a program where the kids in 8th grade get to meet four Holocaust survivors,” explains 14-year-old Gavi Melman, “and we get to interview them and learn about their lives and their individual stories from the Holocaust.”
The process is being filmed and made into a documentary, a project created by Tova Rosenberg:
“You know, there are a lot of Holocaust oral histories, but this is so unique because this is the kids doing everything of the project.”
She says the students get lots of guidance:
“A journalist comes in and teaches the students interviewing techniques, the filmmaker teachers them how to use the professional film equipment, they craft their questions.”
Holocaust teacher Andy Friedman says kids get a greater understanding when you teach the Holocaust one story at a time:
“That’s why this program is so important, they’re not numbers. They’re names. Who are they? They’re your age, they’re your parents age. They fought with their parents, they didn’t want to practice piano — everything, they are you.”
All of this semester’s work is preparation to interview actual concentration camp survivors, an opportunity Melman calls unbelievable:
“Most people understand the figure; six million Jews died in the Holocaust. But it’s really, really hard for people to realize all of these people were real people.”
The documentaries will be archived at Israel’s Holocaust memorial.