By Kristian Bekele and Micah Tam
Helen Farkas, a beloved member of the community and an honorable Holocaust survivor, recently passed away. Ms. Farkas was a grandmother figure to one of the Expeditions teachers, Lissa Thiele, who encouraged her to share her story with a number of Summit Public Schools as part of the History of the Holocaust course.
Summit Prep freshman Dariana Pacheco Rodriguez shared, “[Ms. Farkas] was strong enough to survive and share her story, and that just really inspired me.”
Ms. Farkas is a renowned author and Holocaust survivor who wrote Remember the Holocaust: A Memoir of Survival, a memoir recounting her personal experiences in the most infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz. Ms. Farkas inspired many by sharing her story in local high schools and by establishing the Helen and Joe Farkas Center at Mercy High School in San Francisco.
Ms. Farkas was born in Romania and grew up in Hungary before she was forcefully moved to ghettos and later shipped to the concentration camp Auschwitz. She had to endure a long and torturous death march until she and her sister successfully escaped.
At Summit Preparatory Charter High School, many students remember the lasting impact hearing Ms. Farkas’s story had on them.
Summit Prep junior Evelyn Aguilar explained that it helped her realize the privilege of living in the United States. She went on to recall something that Ms. Farkas said to students: “It’s beautiful that you guys get to grow up in a place where you don’t have to worry about going through something I went through.”
Through Ms. Farkas’ efforts to spread knowledge about the importance of the Holocaust, both Rodriguez and Aguilar agreed that they gained a much more vivid understanding of the historical event and a greater appreciation of the circumstances they grew up in.
Below is a video of Helen Farkas sharing her story for the Burlingame Public Library:
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Ms. Farkas and Ms. Thiele attend “A Night To Remember,” an event meant to show the atrocities that the Roth family suffered through during the Holocaust.