POWER — Decades after one of the most horrific genocides in human history, the Holocaust remains to be an event that continues to be talked about.
The murder of six million Jews became a turning point in history, one of the key factors in World War Two.
While survivor Ingrid Steppic might have been too young to remember the Holocaust, being born in 1943, her family was responsible for hiding up to 40 Jews.
Ingrid's family moved to Amersfoort only one day before the Germans invaded Holland on May 10th, 1940. Her father, Jan, was to be the manager of the post office. His position consisted of overseeing returned mail as well as death notices. The increasing flow of death certificates of Jewish citizens was when Jan realized that the Nazis were killing Jews, long before many others found out. In response, he encouraged many Jews to go into hiding.
The family took them to their house to stay hidden. However, food and water were extremely limited.
Jan would take them to a nearby train and flee to the countryside.
But with so many people living in their house, the family was running low on food. In 1944, Jan attempted to steal food stamps from a distribution center nearby, leading to his arrest, and being transported to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany. There, Jan became ill with Typhus.
This led to Jan's wife, Nel, having to provide for the family on her own. As if that wasn't challenging enough, the situation continued to worsen. Over 20,000 Dutch people starved to death after a German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm towns, leading to famine, otherwise known as the "Hunger Winter."
Ingrid's sister Ali was also arrested after being found with incriminating receipts from striking railroad workers.
It wasn’t until May 5, 1945 that the people of the Netherlands were liberated. The family was reunited with Jan, who managed to survive.
Ingrid's parents were honored by Yad Vashem in Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations," in 1971. Up to 30,000 Jews were hidden in Holland, including Anne Frank's family. Of this number, 2/3 survived.
Ingrid herself moved to the U.S. after marrying a U.S. soldier. It wasn't until recent years she decided to tell her story.
Ingrid said, "it's a part of my family's story. I realized that a lot of people that were directly affected very often can't tell their stories. and I realized that a lot of people that were affected or most directly affected very often can't tell that it's too traumatizing to relive it all. And so when you realize that people are forgetting what happened, also that it can happen again, that's always hard to acknowledge, but that human beings are capable of that."
While Ingrid has been doing these sorts of speeches for several years, she said there are still certain emotions that come with telling her story.
Ingrid said, "I limit like what I do the reading about what happened in the camps, I know at some point, I got to stop because you get too wound up in it, and so I try to think, is this a story about my family surviving and what they did and how they survived and the daily stuff. I did at one point translated, a friend of my father had written about surviving and the how, and he also he does talk about the horrors, but he writes about it daily, surviving, getting up, how they marched, how they were punished, and just and how they got on trains. I thought, you know, if you stick with that and not just focus on the worst, you can also tell your story and the stories together make the whole pattern. "
A common concern people tend to have, is whether documentaries or books depict history accurately. When asked about how the Holocaust is taught to us, Ingrid said there's always more to the story.
When speaking with students from Power Public Schools, they said there's a whole new perspective when listening to someone who was a part of the Holocaust talking about the hardships that took place.
Junior McKenzie Stewart said, "Our teachers do a pretty good job here of making things pretty in-depth, so we know what was going on for sure, but definitely hearing from somebody who learned it firsthand is more impacting than just textbooks."
Junior Dakotta Wentz said, "I definitely felt her pain telling the stories. It does help my understanding having someone who grew up in it and seeing their point of views. I read books about it, but it was definitely a good take-away moment."
Senior Hailey May said, "When her sister was in prison and she would make the little dolls out of cloth that her family would send and write messages on, it was definitely intriguing hearing all the little side stories that impacted her life. It was interesting hearing how it would impact her family and how her dad came back, and how different he was, and same with the family members.
You can read more about Ingrid Steppic and her family through the Holocaust Center For Humanity: https://www.holocaustcenterseattle.org/ingrid-steppic
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