Jewish rights group partners with Teanfly on Holocaust initiative after Hitler school project

TENAFLY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A global Jewish rights organization is now partnering with the Borough of Tenafly in New Jersey after a fifth grade student dressed up as Hitler for a class project.

A written portion of the student's project was also displayed at Maugham Elementary School for several weeks before anyone noticed.

The assignment was to pick a historical figure who personifies good or evil and speak from the individual's perspective, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center says the partnership will help raise awareness on the Holocaust.

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Peter looked at Lisa and asked if she would marry him. What Peter didn't remember was that they were already married.


"If they give a project for the kids, they should be sure that they taught the kids about this project," Holocaust survivor Mark Schonwetter said. "You cannot expect a kid to know everything. He's too young."

The Jewish community came together Friday morning, trying to recover from the fallout from the assignment in which an 11-year-old wrote an essay's from Hitler's perspective, saying, "I was pretty great, wasn't I? I was very popular and many people followed me until I died."

"By now, the recent concerning incident with an elementary school based project that seemingly glorified Adolf Hitler and the destruction of European Jews is well known," Simon Wiesenthal Center Eastern Director Michael Cohen said.

The campaign features the firsthand out of Schonwetter, who hopes to steer the narrative back on course.

"As a Holocaust survivor, I feel that we all should be one family," he said. "We should understand what in the past happened."

The project caught the attention of local leaders, who called on the board of education to take action. Both the teacher and the principal remain on administrative leave.

"Rather than arguing over what should and should not be said, we're using this situation as an opportunity to understand and learn," Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna said.

As for Tenafly pubic schools, the district says it is "actively engaged in conversations on how the district can enhance its Holocaust curriculum, and of course welcomes all good ideas."

"Let's hope that when we get together with the community and we talk about it, and I tell my story, that they will understand," Schonwetter said.

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