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German Teens Connect With Holocaust Survivor’s Son In Emotional Video Call

German students uncover fate of Jewish classmates in Holocaust research

The history club at Comenius Gymnasium in Düsseldorf, Germany, decided to research what happened to 41 Jewish students who attended the school between 1900 and 1945.

The German teenagers learned that seven of the 41 were killed in the Holocaust. One was Guido Willinger, who attended the school in 1915 and 1916.

With help from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, the student club contacted his son, Gershon Willinger, a resident of Toronto, Canada. In a nearly two-hour video call, 15 students and four teachers shared their research with Gershon and his wife, Jane.

That included student identification cards and grades for Guido and his brothers, (Gershon’s uncles) Kurt and Izmar, and locations and photos of the family’s home and business. The school sent materials to Gershon after the presentation.

“The call, which Daniella Lurion, an educator at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, facilitated during a trip to Düsseldorf in March, left Gershon deeply moved and overwhelmed,” said the nonprofit agency.

Brandenburg, Oranienburg: The lettering of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial. One of the German Nazi concentration camps used from 1936 to 1945. A group of German teenagers from Düsseldorf learned that out of the 41 Jews who attended the school, 7 were killed in the Holocaust. One was Guido Willinger, who attended the school in 1915 and 1916. FABIAN SOMMER/DPA/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES.

An hour-and-a-half recording shared with JNS included eight students and a teacher sharing their findings, including things Gershon didn’t know about his family and the survivor sharing his thoughts and experiences and posing questions.

“It gives me my family history,” said Gershon Willinger, to the group.

He referred to himself at one point as a “hearsay child,” who had to find out about his family from others since he barely knew his parents.

“It means an awful lot to me,” said Willinger to the group. 

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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