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Transcript of Carpinteria High School Interview 3; Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Interviewer:  Jeremy Garsha
Interviewee: JL, Junior in Casey Roberts’ U.S. History class
Prepared by Jeremy Garsha, 5/27/03, edited w/ hm, 5/28; needs illustration {R1}

This was an interview conducted with a high school student who had heard Nina speak last year.  The subject was a highly motivated female student.  This interview was based on a preformulated list of questions.
The interview lasted about 20 minutes. It took about 2 hours to transcribe.

Jeremy Garsha:  You probably already know, but I am a history senior up at UCSB, and I work with Dr. Marcuse, whom you met last year.  We focus on Nazi Germany, and how that is taught to students and how they learn history.
JL:  Yeah.

J:  Okay, I just want to start things off with some word association.  So you just tell me what you think when you hear these words?
JL: (laughs), okay.  I can try that.
J:  Don’t think of it as anything hard, it’s all fun stuff.  So when I say “Germany,” what is the first thing that pops into your head?
JL:  (chuckles) …a country
J:  “Nazi”
JL:  “Hitler”
J:  “Gestapo”, or “SS
JL: (shakes head) no idea.
J:  That’s fine.  “Concentration Camps”
JL:  Jews.
J:  “Genocide”
JL:  Nothing.
J:  “Holocaust”
JL: concentration camps
J:  “Survivor”
JL:  Hardly any
J:  “Refugees”
JL:  Nothing
J:  “Children and war”
JL:  Bad
J:  And “victims” what do you think of when I say “victims”?
JL:  Jewish people.

J:  Okay.  Can you tell me what Mr. Roberts has done this year, for your guys’ class?
JL:  Well…this…
J:  What class is this?
JL:  This is U.S. History, so we don’t do much on that [Nazi Germany].

J:  Okay, but you were in the Modern World class last year.
JL:  I was actually never in Modern World last year.  I did it over the summer, so I didn’t have Mr. Roberts as a teacher.  I just came in for Nina’s presentation. [Note the use of the word "presentation" rather than talk or testimony—this might have been because students read Nina’s letter, from behind a podium.]

J:  Okay, so why did you come in for Nina’s talk?
JL:  Well, just because I took it over the summer so I didn’t have a chance…I wanted to be there because I heard about it.

J:  Did you do that on your own?
JL:  Yeah, I just did that on my own.

J:  So have you covered World War II in any of your other classes?
JL:  Not really, like in…no…not really.

J:  Okay.  So in the summer class did you guys make posters and read Night?
JL:  Actually we didn’t read Night.  We didn’t seem to cover the Holocaust very much, at all.  I remember we did some more Egyptian, Greek, and Roman.  The more ancient stuff.

J:  Okay.  Well let’s talk about a little more background before you heard Nina.  Have you gone to any museums?
JL:  Oh yeah.  I went to one in eighth grade, I think it was…
J:  Was it down in LA?
JL:  Yes.

J:  Was it the LA Museum of Tolerance?
JL:  Yes it was.

J:  Okay.  And have you ever been to Washington D.C.?
JL:  No, I haven’t.

J:  What do you remember about the Museum of Tolerance?
JL:  A lot of pictures that were really vivid, kind of sad and depressing.  Seeing them…they are just so big.  It’s really different than looking at little pictures in textbooks and reading about it.

J:  Have you read, on your own, any Holocaust books?
JL:  I read Diary of Anne Frank.

J:  Did you read that on your own, or was that for a class?
JL:  No, I read that on my own.

J:  What did you think about it?
JL:  Oh, I love that book.  I liked it a lot.

J:  When you read it, what struck you the most?
JL:  Just the fact that she was so young, but that she could still learn to deal with it emotionally.  I thought that she was a really strong person.

J:  Would you recommend that book?
|JL:  Oh, definitely.

J:  Do you think that Mr. Roberts should include that book in his class?
JL:  Yes.

J:  As opposed to Night…oh wait, you never read Night.
JL:  I’ve never read Night, but a lot of people have told about it, and said they really liked it.

J:  Do you watch the History Channel?
JL:  Yeah.

J:  Yeah?  What do you watch on the History Channel?
JL:  I like stuff on the Egyptians.

J:  So like, early history?
JL:  Yeah. 

J:  Have you ever seen any documentaries on the History Channel…those black and white documentaries?
JL:  Probably, I watch (-) [Cut off by interviewer, but was probably going to say that she watches other channels with documentaries]
J:  Do you watch A&E?
JL:  Yeah.

J:  And you’ve seen documentaries on that (channel)?
JL:  Yeah.

J:  And can you tell me about any of those documentaries…what they were about?
JL:  Well…I just saw one the other night…about the Japanese and World War II.  Pearl Harbor and stuff like that.  I love history.

J:  You like history?
JL:  It’s awesome.

J:  Have you seen any World War II films?
JL:  Pearl Harbor (laughs)

J:  Did you see Saving Private Ryan?
JL:  No I haven’t.

J:  Have you seen any Holocaust related films…Schindler’s List?
JL:  Yeah, I’ve seen that one.

J:  Have you seen any other ones?
JL:  Not that come to mind.

J:  Did you ever see Life is Beautiful?
JL:  No.  …Oh wait, was that the one…
J:  The Italian one.
JL:  Yeah, I did see that one.  Yeah, I really like that one, with the little boy and the dad.

J:  Well, let’s talk about Nina than.  Were you one of the girls that read her letter, when she came in?
JL:  No, I didn’t read it.

J:  Did you…can you run me through it?  Tell me about it?
JL:  The letter?

J:  No, when Nina came.  Like, you came in from another class, right…
JL:  Just like how everything was set up?
J:  Sure.
JL:  There was a couple classes in Mr. Roberts room, and Nina was sitting in the middle in a chair, and everyone was sort of surrounding her.  We had a podium, and people took turns reading a couple of pages, or a few paragraphs…and she would sit there and listen to it.  And at the end we asked questions.  {INSERT ILLUSTRATION}

J:  Did you ask her a question?
JL:  I think I asked her a question—there was this whole part where she was running through a forest, or something like that, after she escaped…something like that, I don’t really remember too much, but I just remember in the letter I was confused on what was going on there, so I think I asked her something about that.

J:  And what kind of answer did she give?  Do you remember?
JL:  I think she just reexplained it to me, so I would understand.

J:  And did it make more sense when she explained it?
JL:  It made more sense when she explained it, more than the students just reading the letter.

J:  Did you think it might have been more helpful if Nina had (orally) told her story, rather than just listened?
JL:  Yeah, yeah I think so.  It would have been more captivating than listening to the students.

J:  How much did Nina talk?  Would she interrupt while people were reading?
JL:  Not that I remember, I don’t think she really interrupted at all, she would just kind of nod, and you could see…at some parts her expressions would change, and you could she her get a little sad.

J:  Did she ever get real emotional?
JL:  I…I don’t remember.

J:  What kinds of details still stick with you now; now that it has been a year?
JL:  About the letter, or…

J:  Just about the whole experience?
JL: [silence]
J:  or about the letter.  What can you still remember?
JL:  What can I still remember…umm…it’s kind of fuzzy, but she’s on a train and there was some military person there…  I really remember her expressions, on her face, and how they would change… those really stick with you more than anything. [Thus it would probably be important that Nina sits near the person reading her letter, so that the audience will naturally be looking at her while listening.]

J:  How much about the Holocaust did you know, before you heard Nina talk?
JL:  uh… a lot.  Well, maybe not a lot, but enough to know what happened and what was going on, and the different views about it, and how people think about it.

J:  Nina is going to come down and talk, next week, or maybe the week after that.  Do you think that the approach of having students read the letter and her responding to that works, or do you think that maybe she should just talk on her own?
JL:  I would like to see her tell the story.  Maybe just get rid of the letter, and tell it how she remembers it. 

J:  Okay.  Are you going to come in and listen to it?
JL:  Oh yeah.  I definitely will.

J:  Okay.  Let me just ask, do you have any plans for after graduation?
JL:  Yeah…college.   I’d like to go to UCSB.

J:  Are you planning on majoring in anything?
JL:  Well, I have three different choices of what I’d like to get into.

J:  What are those three?
JL:  Some type of fashion-marketing…theater or film…and…history.

J:  What kind of history would you want to study, if you pursued that?
JL:  I think either ancient Roman or ancient Egypt.

J:  Okay.  Do you have any questions you want to ask me?
JL:  umm…Why are you doing this again?

J:  What we are doing is we’re working on the website.  It’s an ongoing Holocaust Oral Histories project.  And you try to limit your variables when you are doing Holocaust study, by using one survivor--it’s just a way of cutting out all the other stuff that is out there.  So we focus on Nina.  The professor I work for is Dr. Marcuse, and he focuses on Nazi German history, and the Holocaust.  But not so much the details of that, but rather how it is taught to students, and how students absorb it.  So we are going down to the high school level to see how it’s taught, and Mr. Roberts is one of the few teachers that will actually teach about the Holocaust in high school?

JL:  Why is that?
J:  It’s really weird, but when you start studying the Holocaust, you find out that it is kind of this separate thing.  That students will learn about Nazi Germany, but if you mention the Holocaust they might not know all the details.  And vise versa; people that are real into the Holocaust, if you ask them questions about Nazi Germany…a lot of times they won’t know (that much).  The Holocaust is kind of this separate appendix to the historical event.  So we are just trying to find out about different approaches to teaching history, and how they work.  And we are making this on going research project that is available for everyone on the Web.  So teachers can click on it—high school teachers, or college teachers, researchers interested in how kids learn—can get information from it…it’s kind of this big tool that’s out there, so every little bit helps.

JL:  I have a friend…and we were discussing this actually… and they made a comment towards me that they didn’t think it actually happened.  And I know that some people believe that…like my brother used to believe that too, and it’s really weird.  I can’t understand why they believed that, so I started discussing that with them, and they didn’t think that it didn’t actually happened, but that people…umm…what’s the word I’m looking for… that people exaggerate [she drew this word out—it was the word she was looking for] so much more than it actually was.  Is that true in any way?

J:  Well…there is this whole thing out there; it’s called Holocaust Denial.  These deniers, what they do is they want to pick apart these stories, because they are obsessed on…on…proving things wrong.  So like…they’ll pull up some numbers…like when the camps were first liberated, a lot of rough estimates went out on just how many people died.  And it turned out that less died than those original estimates…just because when you first go into a camp, you see all these bodies…and you’re thinking this is horrible…I don’t want to say a lot worse, because it was still incredibly bad…but you’re thinking extreme.

JL:  Yeah?

J:  so then people look at those old numbers, and they look at the new numbers that came out, and they say “oh, see there is a discrepancy here.”  They are just looking to pick everything apart.  Just try to think of someone who is really argumentative, they want to catch you are something….because they want to prove that you are wrong about some little detail…  uh…. I can’t really explain it too well…but it’s out there and it’s this big thing.  So…like when I went to the LA museum of Tolerance, they had just found the SS officer who arrested Anne Frank, and that a real big deal because it proved Anne Frank was a real person… A lot of people think that the Anne Frank story is fabricated…or… there are cross sections.  Some people think that Anne Frank didn’t exist at all… and others think that she existed but she couldn’t have written this diary by herself…maybe her dad helped her on it, or exaggerated it.  And it’s this big thing out there…  If you want I can get you some more information on it, if you give me an email address.

JL:  okay, sure [writes down email address].

J:  I’ll talk to my professor and see if I can get you some more information on it.

JL:  And how do you like going to UCSB?

J:  It’s real fun.  I really like the history department up there.  When I graduated high school I went out the University of Hawai´i for two years… I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just wanted to go to school, so I was out there and I actually ended up taking some history classes out there—in high school I actually did really poorly in history—but I took some history classes out there and I found this history professor out there that I really liked, and we just hit it off.  It was a small school, so I transferred to UCSB because I wanted that big, academic experience.  And at first it was a little intense to go to such a big school, you’re pretty anonymous in your classes—which a lot of people like, but I was coming from such a small school… but I found the teachers that I like, and I got used to it.  It’s been a lot of fun, I highly recommend it.  Especially if your from the Carpinteria area, because you’ll be near your home.

JL:  yeah (-)

J:  but then again, maybe students what to get far away…so you got to make up your own choice.  It’s so close; you should go check it out.

JL:  okay, thanks.

J:  Okay.  Thank you J[L].

JL:  You’re welcome.

J:  I’ll walk back with you.

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created May 28, 2003, last updated May 28, 2003
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