Students learn history from World War II veteran and a Holocaust survivor

Monday, April 24, 2017

On the crisp, dewy morning of March 29, history students at Marshall County High School were given a unique opportunity to hear the earth-shattering stories told by a Holocaust survivor, Frances Hahn, and World War II Veteran, Jimmy Gentry. This was an opportunity for MCHS students to listen to these historical accounts and preserve these precious gems of the past.

The group of 160 students first visited the Jewish Community Center, located in Nashville, to listen to the awe-inspiring words of a brave Holocaust Survivor, Frances Hahn. Hahn shared her struggle as a mere toddler who had her childhood torn from the hold of her innocent hands.

Hahn was born in 1938 and was only three years old when Hitler invaded her native country of France. She was one of the thousands of Jewish children hidden during the Holocaust. She was first placed in a children’s home by her parents where she was told to hide her true identity.

After 1942, the Germans not only captured Jewish men but they also added women and children to the ranks, which became known as the Big Roundup. In the direct line of danger, a 4-year-old Frances had to be relocated to a Catholic farm and, as the war progressed, had to continually move from place to place fleeing from the reach of the Nazi regime. The Nazis claimed the lives of more than 1.5 million Jewish children like her.

After losing both her parents to the war, Hahn was sent to America by her uncle and aunt to start a new life. Fast forward almost 70 years and Hahn is standing before the students of MCHS as they sit there astonished. Her life, as she brilliantly portrayed through her riveting story, shed perspective on the struggles of the Jewish community during World War II. Through her story, Hahn revealed the true nefarious nature of Anti-Semitism. She urged us, this new generation of young aspiring adults, to take a stand against this evil as it continues to oppress people around the world.

After Hahn’s riveting account of the Jewish struggle during the war, we were blessed to meet a 91-year old World War II veteran named Jimmy Gentry. Gentry greeted us with his exhilarating story as an infantry soldier in the war.

During his teenage years, Gentry’s older brother died in the war, but this loss only rectified his spirits as he continuously pursued enlistment in the armed forces despite being under age.

Although the young Gentry was rejected from the Air Force due to color-blindness, he nevertheless found his place in the U.S. Army infantry where he endlessly trained for 12 weeks until his unit was called to action.

He spoke of the long, tiresome times of perpetual marching, the endless nights spent in the lifeless dark, and the numerous accounts of death.

He revealed his experiences of when his unit helped to liberate the Dachau concentration camp. Painfully and disgustingly, he vividly illustrated the scene of the utter, inhumane horror of the war: the countless losses of war, the millions of Jewish corpses, the legions of lost friends and family members, and the dismembered landscape left behind on Europe’s tainted continent.

Gentry told us how he, an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army, was unaware of the existence of concentration camps, unaware of the brutal persecution of the malnourished and mass-murdered Jews. He regreted how millions of Jews could’ve been saved if only the democratic powers of the world would’ve taken a stand against Anti-Semitism.

This trip left us with a calling that revitalized our minds and will always resonate with us through the course of our lives. A calling that if answered, will lead to a better and more peaceful world in which no one group of people will ever face oppression or persecution. A calling that will lead a people of diverse and different backgrounds into the future generations of civilization as a singular unified group of people--the human race.