FOXBORO – A project to educate people about the Holocaust continues at the Foxboro Regional Charter School, where students last fall capped a nine-year effort to collect 11 million stamps – one for every Holocaust victim, including 6 million Jews – by eclipsing that mark.
The goal of the Holocaust Stamps Project was met on the eve of last Yom Kippur, with stamps pouring in from across the United States and the world.
But reaching that milestone doesn’t mean the end of the project: the students’ efforts to get the word out about the Holocaust is continuing, according to the project’s founder, retired teacher Charlotte Sheer.
To mark the observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Jan. 27, students completed the project’s 14th collage fashioned from the stamps. The date was significant because one of the most notorious death camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, was liberated on Jan. 27, by troops from the Soviet Union.
During the process of liberating the death camps, Allied soldiers discovered countless personal articles that had belonged to the Jewish victims. Out of respect for the memory of those people, many of the items were documented and are exhibited at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C.
One photograph in the museum shows a solitary worn-out shoe, scarred with wrinkles and rips, that was found at one of the camps. The powerful image, Sheer said, provided the inspiration for the Holocaust Stamp Project’s “I Am the Last Witness” collage.
Students used stamps from occupied countries to form the artwork’s shoe. Surrounding it are hundreds of shapes that depict people, to honor the memory of the camp’s victims and survivors.
The collage was a four-year community effort during which students, senior citizens and guests donated stamps. Friends and family members of Holocaust survivors and victims who participated sometimes wrote the names of their loved ones on the back of the stamps.
Hidden in the artwork are 18 images of doves, a symbol of peace that appears in each of the project’s collages.
The latest collage is among the pieces that will be displayed at the annual Holocaust Stamps Project Open House, to be held at the school in April.
LARRY KESSLER is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com.