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Daughter of Holocaust survivors pays special visit to Dutch Fork Middle School

IRMO, SC - Dr. Lilly Stern Filler knows all too well about how hatred can hurt others, and she has taken it upon herself to share her special message with students. Filler met with seventh and eighth grade students from the Hate Won’t Win ACTION Team at Dutch Fork Middle School on February 13 to tell her story.

Filler was born in Munich, Germany and is the daughter of Holocaust survivors Ben and Jadzia Stern. She immigrated to South Carolina in 1949. In 2000, Filler chaired the oversight of the Columbia Holocaust Memorial at Memorial Park in Columbia. She has assisted in the development of the “Holocaust Remembered” exhibit that is available online and as a PowerPoint for teachers. For the past three years, Filler has worked to publish “Holocaust Remembered,” an educational supplement to The State newspaper which is distributed annually to over one million people in South Carolina.

Filler was appointed to the SC Holocaust Council by the governor and she also serves on the Selden K. Smith Foundation for Holocaust Education. This year, the foundation provided Dutch Fork Middle School with a grant to purchase books about the Holocaust for their lunch bunch book club. Filler says she is committed to educating and speaking to groups about the Holocaust and sharing the experiences of her parents. She strongly feels that as time progresses, the lessons of the Holocaust could be forgotten, and it is only through hearing the individual stories that people can say “Never Again.”

“We can bring what happened in the Holocaust down to a local level like in a middle school where bullying occurs,” Filler said. “It is so hurtful to bully someone, and it is so important to stand up for people who may not be able to stand up for themselves. We have to be upstanders and stand up to those people who are trying to cause harm towards others. This is the message I wanted students to hear today so they can take action when someone feels threatened by another.”

Students from Dutch Fork Middle were nearly left speechless after hearing Filler speak. “Hearing from Dr. Filler share about what her parents went through was so unfortunate,” said eighth grader Kenzie Smith. “For her parents to survive, and what Dr. Filler has gone on to do since in becoming an advocate against hatred is so inspirational.”

Eighth grader Elise Hill added, “For me, I find the Holocaust very fascinating to learn about. Hearing the stories honors the living survivors and those that passed away, but it also helps us not to repeat history.”

Dutch Fork Middle teacher and ACTION advisor Lori Wenzinger believed it was crucial for her students to hear from Filler saying, “We appreciate Dr. Filler sharing the story of her parents who are Holocaust survivors. Students can connect what they learned today about the Holocaust to their studies in history and ELA. Our ACTION Team empowers students to take a stand against injustice. We recognize the value of all individuals and encourage dialogue to create awareness about the issues of racism, stereotyping and bullying. Together, we are building a community of upstanders here at Dutch Fork Middle School!”

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Photo captions: Dutch Fork Middle School ACTION Team members join Dr. Lilly Filler for a picture. Filler shared her story of being a daughter of two Holocaust survivors.

Dutch Fork Middle School ACTION Team officers join Dr. Filler for a picture. Left to right (Megan Rice, Secretary, Nora Dixon, Vice President, Dr. Filler, Nina Frattaroli, President, Elise Hill, PR Officer)

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