Royse City Herald-Banner

Local News

March 30, 2011

Trying to touch a nightmare

Middle school students create Holocaust museum

ROYSE CITY — Students at Royse City Middle School took their research project a bit further than normal when delving into the story of the Holocaust during World War II. The students created a museum within the walls of a portable building behind the school.

And the reviews coming back from visitors are quite high for the efforts made by the students.

Old newspaper reprints line the walls of the portable building, and the German slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work makes you free) hangs over the door, much the same way the Jews saw those words when arriving at Auschwitz.

One of the more noted features of the exhibit is a small closet renovated to resemble the inside of a railroad cattle car, like the ones used to transport massive numbers of Jews on trains in Europe.

Charlie Didear mans that post, explaining to visitors the true dimensions of a real car, and explaining the process used to move the Jews in large numbers.

“They packed them in just like cattle,” Didear said. “Only I think it was a little worse than cattle. With cattle, at least most of the time they would feed them well.”

As many as 23 students have squeezed into the replica railroad car. With the reduced dimensions, 23 can be an uncomfortable crowd. Students are quick to point out the real thing was even more cramped.

On the opposite side of the room is another strange display. An aquarium full of hair rests next to two pillows, with a sign indicating the pillow-stuffing was also human hair. This display noted the products made by the Germans with actual bodily remnants of the Jews who had gone through the gas chamber.

“My hair used to be down to here,” motions Julia Lynch with her hand held horizontally across her chest. Lynch, like many other students at RCMS, donated her own hair to the project. She greeted visitors with a short-cropped hairstyle, what was left after the extracurricular activities. Motioning to a glass display case containing an empty metal can that used to contain the poisonous chemical Zyklon-B, she adds that it was manufactured by a well-known pharmaceutical company.

“It used to be made by Bayer,” Lynch said. “That’s one of the little side things we learned.”

The museum was the collaboration of two teachers: Kelly Elliott, an eighth grade pre-AP English teacher, and Victoria Downs, who teaches seventh grade Gifted and Talented students. The project began with research and ended with deciding how to convey that research to others.

It was more than a month in planning and included field trips to the Holocaust museum in Dallas.

The tables of the museum are lined with old photographs, scale models of concentration camp buildings, and reflections on that chapter in history by the students themselves. One display compares the meals eaten at a concentration camp; one representing the food eaten by the German soldiers, and another representing the daily ration afforded Jews. On the opposite wall, wooden boxes form a graph showing how many were lost in each year. The graph for 1942 stands prominently taller than the other years with 3,159,000 victims.

“That was the killing year,” said Madison Runnels motioning to the graph.

“I knew the basics of it,” Runnels said when asked how much she knew of the Holocaust before going into the school project. “But I didn’t know how many it really was. Six million people, it was just very sad.”

The museum was toured by students at RCMS as well as being held open for after-school visits by the community on four evenings.

Text Only
Local News
  • Local resident chosen to head NTMWD board

    Darwin Whiteside of Royse City has been elected to serve as president of the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) Board of Directors for 2014-2015.

    July 10, 2014

  • money_hand_holding_bankroll_girls_february_08_20117.jpg Local economy sees another good month

    The local economy in Rockwall County continues to exceed the output of 2013, as evident in the latest sales tax refund report released by the Texas Comptroller’s office.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • RGB_planned_reservoir_7-8-14-1.jpg Reservoir could help secure additional water

    North Texas Municipal Water District officials believe the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir planned in Fannin County could be an answer to customer questions about what’s being done to secure additional water supplies to keep up with growth in the region.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4x2 whatshappening 1.jpg What's Happening

    Here’s a look at what’s on tap in Rockwall County. To add your event, send an email to Cliff Gibson, Editor, at

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Construction on sewer line continues along I-30

    Now that construction of the north and south sections of the Pond Branch Creek sewer line has been completed, workers have turned their efforts to connecting the two lines.

    July 9, 2014

  • County takes look at future of transportation

    While current construction on a number of road projects throughout Rockwall County gets the attention of residents, commuters and those passing by, county officials are still hard at work in planning the next phase of improvements still to come to the local infrastructure.

    July 9, 2014

  • grand jury.jpg Grand Jury returns 31 indictments in June

    The Rockwall County Grand Jury returned 31 felony indictments in June.
    Names of eight of the defendants were not released by the Rockwall County district clerk’s office.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Elderly woman accused of killing 89-year-old husband

    An 83-year-old woman, described as “a loose cannon” by her landlord, has been arrested in this Buffalo suburb for beating her 89-year-old husband to death.

    July 9, 2014

  • RGB_Day_3-29_7-1-14.jpg FUMC youth forgo travel in order to serve in community

    Members of the youth department at the First United Methodist Church of Royse City participated in their first-ever “Stay Mission” in June.

    July 2, 2014 2 Photos

  • Road-construction-traffic-e13528410957911.jpg County schedules meeting to discuss traffic flow issues

    Now that the conversion of service roads through Rockwall County is under way, county officials are calling for a meeting to ensure all entities within are on the same page when it comes to traffic circulation.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
FIFA Rejects Suarez Appeal Against Biting Ban World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate UN Secretary-General Urges Mideast Ceasefire 'Game of Thrones' Leads Emmy Nominees Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta At Texas Border, a Daily Tide of Poor Migrants Raw: Rescuers Push Beached Whale Back to Ocean Mass. Mayor: Families Lost Everything in Fire Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup'
Featured Ads
Must Read
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide