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Holocaust Survivor Sophia Veffer Speaks to Hoover Middle School Students

Sophia Veffer  

On April 7, students in Team 7-2 at Hoover Middle School were introduced to Holocaust survivor Sophia Veffer, who delivered a powerful message about the importance of being an “upstander” in life rather than a bystander.

Veffer was born in Amsterdam in 1929. Her family unsuccessfully tried to escape Holland when German forces invaded in May 1940. Veffer was separated from her parents and went into hiding. She moved from hiding place to hiding place before being discovered by the Nazis and ultimately sent to the death camp at Bergen-Belsen. Her life was saved when the Allies finally advanced into Nazi Germany, liberating the camp in April 1945.

She later learned that she was the only member of her family to survive. She came to the U.S. in 1954, taught special education for many years and was active in community human rights and theater.

In her talks, Veffer reflects on the importance of never being a bystander in the face of injustice. Drawing connections to unspeakable atrocities committed during the Holocaust, Veffer teaches to never just accept that something is out of one’s control. Instead of being a bystander, people need to be “upstanders,” doing what is right no matter how difficult the circumstances.