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Somerset Middle School students learn about the Holocaust

From left to right, eighth-graders Julia Weldon, Laura McVeigh, Autumn Wood (kneeling), Mrs. Louise Dillery, Mikayla Dulon and Katie Bartig. Submitted photo

Eighth-grade students at the Somerset Middle School had the opportunity to hear a firsthand account of life in France during World War II from Holocaust survivor Louise Dillery.

Students have been studying about World War II and the Holocaust in English and social studies classes this spring, and Mrs. Dillery agreed to come and meet with the students, relating to them the memories of the Nazis taking over her hometown of Paris and how life quickly changed, especially for Jews.

Since her parents were raised Jewish in Poland, Dillery fell under the new rules implemented by the Nazis to target Jews. Eventually, her father was arrested and sent to Auschwitz where she later found out he died right away. Dillery spoke of her "angels in human form" who helped her avoid capture by the Nazis and helped her maintain her education, even though it was illegal for Jews to attend school.

After the war, Dillery was sponsored by an American family to come to the United States where she met her husband, attended St. Kate's University in St. Paul, and became a French teacher.

This was Dillery's fourth visit to Somerset Middle School to share her story with students.