The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
– Eli Weisel
Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, hopes to help eliminate bullying and intolerance in our society through a new curriculum developed by his granddaughter, based on his life. The new curriculum is being used by various schools and individuals in Atlanta and Georgia.
Born in 1928 in Krakow, Poland, Lesser provides perspective in the curriculum about life before, during and after World War II. Through education, Lesser combats hate but sees that, “When enough people are willing to speak up and speak out, change will happen and the world will be a better place.”
He documents his story in the 2012 self-published book, “Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream.”
Robyn Weber, Lesser’s granddaughter, is a third-generation survivor dedicated to producing the lesson plan of Lesser’s book for educators, and a website to teach the Eastern European portion of World War II. “Many folks had not met a Holocaust survivor,” Weber explained, “and it was our intent to help keep the world from forgetting.”
The free and interactive curriculum includes six lesson plans, videos, historical photography, personal anecdotes, historical interactive timeline, student activities and dialogue prompts. The goal is to teach tolerance and acceptance, to put an end to intolerance, speak up for those who cannot, and remind the world to never forget, Weber said.
Lesser’s book covers much of the history of the Holocaust, which primarily took place in the Eastern European portion of World War II. As Germany was badly defeated in World War I, and the people, the economy and the country were in a depression, Jews were blamed for the economic downturn and became the scapegoats, Lesser wrote in his book.
Democracy ended in 1933 when Hitler was appointed chancellor and instituted the Third Reich. Hitler and the Nazis (National Socialist German Workers’ Party), intent on creating a superior race, began the “final solution” to the Jewish problem that same year, he wrote.
Lesser survived four concentration camps and death marches and the notorious Dachau death train (almost three weeks), before immigrating to the United States in 1947, where he enjoyed a successful career in real estate.
He also founded the ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, a national nonprofit. ZACHOR Holocaust Curriculum, available in select schools in Georgia, can be found at zachorlearn.org
Lesser warns that there was a time of moral imbalance, and in 2020, we are again seeing increases in anti-Semitism and blatant racism. “It looks like we are on that terrifying path again.”
- Susanne Katz
- Ben Lesser
- Robyn Weber
- World War II
- World War I
- Concentration camps
- ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance Foundation
- American Dream
- Eli Weisel
- Holocaust Survivor
- Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream