On Feb.24, the sophomore students of Burlingame High School were given the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker who bore an inspirational message. Born in Transylvania, Helen Farkas grew up with a fairly normal life until 1939, when the second world war dawned in Europe. After facing the jewish ghettos, Auschwitz, and even a death march, she is still alive and well enough to share her story.
“It was a really nice experience,” said sophomore student Shellsy Delcid.
Students at Burlingame typically study the second world war, and more specifically the Holocaust. Farkas’ story provides a more in-depth and personal perspective to what seems like such an impossible time in history.
“With her speaking the truth about what she went thought we put ourselves in her shoes” Delcid continued.
The message Helen came to share was one of acceptance and tolerance.
“No more hatred” Farkas said towards the end of her presentation, “replace the hatred with love.”
In addition to her own survival, Farkas also saved her younger niece Irene, who was about 18 at the time. Irene had polio as a child and was left with one leg a little bit shorter than the other, thus giving her a small limp. When the prisoners were brought to Auschwitz, they were sent either to work, or straight to their deaths. Those who were too young, old, or disabled to work were led to the gas showers. After working out the daily inspection patterns, Helen was able to hide Irene’s disability from the Nazis, and in doing so she saved Irene who is alive and well to this very day.
Her message penetrated the hearts and minds of everyone who was in attendance.
“She really talked with her heart…It was very touching to see what she went through” Delcid stated when asked about the presentation.
Farkas, who has been speaking at Burlingame for many years, left the students with a powerful message.
“I'm teaching tolerance… [because] the future is yours” Farkus said.