FLOWERY BRANCH - Fifty sixth graders at South Hall Middle School Thursday morning learned about the Holocaust of World War Two from someone who saw it first hand.
Retired army general Russel Weiskircher was a 20-year-old soldier when he helped liberate Dachau,the Nazi death camp,66 years ago at the close of the war in Europe.
As vice chairman of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, he said his mission is to educate, and encourage young people never to hate.
"I hope they will develop an open mind and that they remember we're all descended from immigrants." Weiskircher said. "I want them to have open minds and study and give everybody a chance."
Weiskircher said most students he talks to have never heard of Dachau.
The Commission presented two learning trunks full of materials on the Holocaust that will travel to middle schools across the state. The Commission is a state agency that uses the lessons of the Holocaust to teach about injustice, stereotyping, discrimination and bigotry so that the Holocaust will never be repeated. This year, the Jewish Claims Conference and the Georgia Department of Education have funded the "Holocaust Learning Trunk Project".
South Hall Middle School was specifically chosen by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle as the location for the Commission to formally present one of the trunks.
Commission Executive Director Vicki Staley this was an opportunity to bring the trunks to Gainesville and then to schools across Northeast Georgia.
"This is about everyone of us opening our hearts to those who are different from us," Staley said.
South Hall Middle School sixth grader, 11-year-old Mason Barnes, said he could have listened all day to the General.
"The Holocaust was an awful thing, I would not have liked to live in that time," Barnes said. "I think we are very in touch with it. I enjoyed all of his speaking."