The Holocaust is a heavy and not exactly the most pleasant topic to discuss, but Becki Zanardi has great knowledge of it.
The Scotus Central Catholic High School English teacher will be presenting on the horrors of the Holocaust to the community soon. The talk will be held at 2 p.m. on March 3 at the Platte County Museum, 2916 16th St. in Columbus. Admission is free for historical society members and $3 for non-members.
The 45-minute talk will focus on the deaths of a half-million Ukrainian Jews murdered by Nazi Germany and its allies when it invaded the Soviet Union between 1941-1944. Many of them were shot by Nazi mobile killing units, hence the title of the presentation “Holocaust by Bullets."
Zanardi said it’s important to talk about the tragedies like the Holocaust because there are still mass killings going on to this day. She said she hopes discussing it with the community and her students will help them take away some perspective.
“We still have mass atrocities and genocides happening. We have mass graves. We have Guatemala in the 2000s. We have Rwanda in the (19)90s. So it’s still happening,” Zanardi said. “And if some little piece of what we hopefully have learned from (the Holocaust) translates to some of my students and how we treat other people and people we don’t necessarily agree with than that’s a victory.”
One of the books Zanardi teaches in her class is "Night" by Elie Wiesel. In 2017, the teacher joined the Nebraska Institute for Holocaust Education Consortium Council. She has also visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and traveled the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. In August, Zanardi will travel to Poland, the Czech Republic and France on a Holocaust tour.
As the population of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle, she noted it’s important now more than ever to tell their stories. Zanardi said there are some out there today who deny the horrors of the Holocaust, and it’s important to counteract this misinformation with the truth.
“So it’s hard to believe that people deny it, but they do,” Zanardi said. “Our survivors are passing away. So there’s a greater risk of deniers surfacing and having more power because we don’t have first-hand experiences anymore.”
Platte County Museum Executive Director Cheri Schrader said the museum has never hosted a Holocaust talk before during her time in charge. She said between 30 and 70 people attend the monthly talks, adding she believes Zanardi's talk will serve an important purpose.
“It’s always nice to visit the museum,” Schrader said. “And I think it will be wonderful to hear what Becki has to say.”
Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.