Schaumburg students hear story of Holocaust escape, reunion

 
 
Updated 2/23/2018 1:15 PM
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  • Eighth-grader Isha Shah meets Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, after a talk to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust. "It takes a lot of courage to talk about the past when it's so painful," Isha said.

      Eighth-grader Isha Shah meets Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, after a talk to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust. "It takes a lot of courage to talk about the past when it's so painful," Isha said. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Fern Schumer Chapman and her mother Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, speak to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg on Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust.

      Fern Schumer Chapman and her mother Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, speak to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg on Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Fern Schumer Chapman talks about atonement at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg on Friday. She and her mother spoke to eighth-graders about surviving the Holocaust.

      Fern Schumer Chapman talks about atonement at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg on Friday. She and her mother spoke to eighth-graders about surviving the Holocaust. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, gives eighth-grader Vivian Santana a hug after speaking to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust.

      Edith Westerfeld Schumer, 92, gives eighth-grader Vivian Santana a hug after speaking to students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg Friday about Schumer's escape from the Holocaust. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Author Fern Schumer Chapman and her mother, 92-year-old Holocaust refugee Edith Westerfeld Schumer, spoke to eighth-grade students at Addams Junior High in Schaumburg Friday about both Schumer's escape from Nazi Germany and her 21st-century reunion with the fellow 12-year-old girl she met on the way.

Chapman wrote books on both events, the second having been triggered by a similar presentation to eighth-graders in 2011.

When mother and daughter spoke to students at Naperville's Madison Junior High about the earlier book, "Is it Day or Night?," Schumer had expressed her sorrow over losing contact with that friend, Gerda Katz Frumkin, and being unable to find her again.

But after hearing the story, those Naperville students were able to locate Frumkin after two days of online research.

The story of that effort, and Schumer and Frumkin's subsequent reunion, became the basis of Chapman's 2015 book, "Like Finding My Twin."

Schumer thinks it's important to tell students this history.

"The kids are really interested," she said of her daughter's talk.

Students at Addams were moved to hear the story. Several, including Vivian Santana, came up to Schumer to meet and hug her.

"She makes me so happy," Vivian said. "I felt like I needed a hug from her."

Student Isha Shah thought it was a very good talk. "It takes a lot of courage to talk about your past when it's so painful," she said.

After speaking to the schoolwide assembly, Chapman spoke to four different groups about how Germany has worked to atone for its past.

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