Veteran Bridges WWII History Gap

Article excerpt

South Allegheny Middle School eighth-graders used "The Diary of Anne Frank" to reach across the generations between them and Rae Zurovcik.

"Anne Frank thought people are basically good," Zurovcik, 88, of Port Vue, told the 12- and 13-year-olds in Janel Vitai's class last week.

"People are basically good," she agreed, "But some are not."

Zurovcik knows about the goods and evils played out in Anne Frank's era, World War II. The native of Great Britain was 15 in 1939 when the war began, and the story of her life during the war years brought history to Zurovcik's students in a way books cannot.

Vitai invited Zurovcik, who became the bride of an American serviceman, to her class after hearing her speak at an assembly. Vitai said an account from someone who "had personally been" through the war would illuminate her students' studies of Anne Frank's book. The diary was kept by the teenaged Frank while she was in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She later died in a concentration camp.

"Did you ever see a concentration camp?" Devin Brown asked.

She didn't but the British heard rumors about the camps, in which Jews and others deemed enemies of the German state were held and killed.

"I don't think people really believed it at first," said Zurovcik, who knew people who had seen them. "It was mind boggling."

In 1940, Zurovcik's father moved the family to the country from London when the Germans began their blitz air attack on the city. …