While some people probably cannot even remember the topics of their middle school papers, Renee Meshach’s sixth grade paper on the Holocaust proved to be a turning point in her life.
“Ever since then I’ve been really interested in the subject,” said Meshach, now a senior at Eastern. “I just can’t get enough of it.”
Her interest in the Holocaust continued to grow and her curiosity only strengthened by experiences such as a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
She took Dr. Gatlin’s Holocaust capstone last semester, and, upon graduating from Eastern, Meshach plans to continue studying the Holocaust at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, through their genocide studies masters program. She also hopes to one day teach Holocaust studies at a college level.
According to Meshach, when most people think of the Holocaust, they “just think of Hitler, Nazis, Jews. They don’t know the entire story.”
“I think it’s important for people to understand the totality of the Holocaust and how it affects people’s lives today,” Meshach said.
While most people seem to know the basics, Meshach mentioned that there are a lot of things that most people are still ignorant about, such as the artwork created during that time, diaries of Jews other than Anne Frank and the kinds of things that went on inside the concentration camps.
She said it is important to understand the Holocaust in order to prevent it from happening again.
“With knowing more you can see the warning signs of genocide,” she explained.
“How do we prevent another Hitler from coming to power and doing this all again? Learning about the Holocaust can lead us to answers about these problems.”
Meshach also said there are some who do not even believe that the Holocaust was as bad as it was.
“My one uncle, who is not a Nazi, doesn’t believe that six million Jews died-maybe a couple thousand,” Meshach said.
“There are a lot of people who think something that major couldn’t happen.”
Though she wanted to go, Meshach was unable to attend the Nazi rally at Valley Forge on September 25. However, she is not very impressed by today’s Nazis, saying that many of them are just trying to be rebellious.
“Sometimes [the neo-Nazi movement] is just a lot of younger to middle-aged people who are not that educated on the whole Nazi ideology,” she said.
“I don’t think the Nazis of today could accomplish what the Nazis of the 40s did.”
Concerning the Nazis of the 1940s, Meshach said she was amazed at the way they used their organization and propaganda to gain such a huge following. She said that if Hitler had not used all of his power to commit such terrible acts, “he could have accomplished amazing things for good.”
While her interest in the Holocaust shows no signs of waning, Meshach does not have a goal.
“I don’t know why I love this subject so much,” she said.
“I hope to find out the reason why, to read a book and say, ‘This is why I’m doing this.’ Until then I’m going to keep reading and researching.”