Over the past several weeks my 6th grade geography students and I have been studying the life of an amazing woman, Claudia. Her life was nothing short of extraordinary. Simply put, she survived and escaped a Nazi labor camp during WWII, lived in a displaced persons camp in N. Germany for five years, and immigrated to the United States after a two month detention on Ellis Island. In 1952 she and her husband, along with their two young sons, moved to a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Here, they created new lives for themselves and lived the quintessential “American Dream.”
I first met Claudia 20 years ago as an extremely shy seven year old girl. We had just moved into the house next door and even then I knew she was special. She became a third grandmother to myself and my younger brother. She acted as a spy for my mom when I was in middle school, calling her work with news that a boy was over. Don’t worry, I was too much of a square to have been doing anything but homework. She shared stories, celebrated birthdays, gave advice, listened, and loved. Last night Claudia died in her sleep.
Tomorrow’s lesson involved writing down questions my students had for Claudia so that I might tape and interview of the two of us about her young life in Eastern Europe and the United States. To say that my students were fascinated by Claudia is an understatement. Over the past several weeks we have read her life story, a book her younger son Vladimir composed. Tomorrow’s lesson will now be dedicated to remembering Claudia. Instead of writing questions students will write their condolences and reflect on the life of such an incredible woman.
In the coming days I want to put together some information about Claudia’s life so that her story is not forgotten. I am willing to share the book her son wrote if any educators out there are teaching lessons on WWII, immigration, labor camps, etc. I can be contacted at email@example.com
I will always remember and love Claudia, 1923 - 2012