Joseph Kahn Visits Boys Latin Charter School
Joseph Kahn, Holocaust survivor of Polish ghettos and camps, took his courage and story to Boys Latin Charter School in Philadelphia, Thursday morning, December 3rd, 2009. Joe was invited to address a group of 60 students and half a dozen staff by Andrew Marcinek, the 10th grade literature teacher.
Interjecting pathos and humor, Joe related how a “normal” life of anti-Semitic stresses prior to September 1st, 1939 was turned upside down on September 2nd when the Nazis invaded his home town in Poland just 11 miles from the German border.
He described synagogue burnings, gathering dead bodies for burial, living in a ghetto, the monthly selection processes, hiding in coal bins, and finally getting caught by the Jewish militia, one member being his good friend. He told about the sad separation from his family, his luck of surviving six camps and recounted the story of a final death march that concluded with his liberation by American soldiers who thought he was dead as he lay in a pile, along with those who couldn’t survive.
During a question and answer session the boys asked Joe sensitive and pertinent questions. A number of students, struck by the recognition that they were experiencing living history, came forward, eager to shake Joe’s hand. As a gesture of appreciation, Joe was presented with a monogrammed school cap by school CEO David Hardy.