Immokalee students restore Holocaust artifact

IMMOKALEE, Fla. – An important piece of Holocaust history is being restored by students at Immokalee Technical College.

A box car from Germany was created in 1919 and probably used for the sinister goals of Nazis, said Executive Director of the Holocaust Museum, Amy Snyder.

“We know it is the type of car that was used to deport people to the camps but we don’t have a specific piece of paper that it definitely did,” Snyder said. “But we know it’s the type that’s iconic of what was used during World War II.”

Students have stripped down the car and working to replace the wood. Their restoration efforts have produced intimate encounters with the artifact, one student said.

“Working on it, looking at the exact dimensions and being in here makes you realize: Wow, this was really harsh,” Cesar Hernandez-Isidro said.

The box car was a donation to the Holocaust Museum. Its owner, Jack Nortman, called the item “haunting.”

“(It is) haunting because our relatives perished in the Holocaust,” Nortman said. “I never had grandparents and the plaque that’s laying on the table here is a monument to all our relatives that died in the Holocaust.”

Since 2008, the boxcar has been used as an educational tool throughout Southwest Florida. But years of touring different schools has taken a tool on its condition.

iTech students will replace the original doors, nuts and bolts after changing out the wood. Making the needed repairs has been huge, Hernandez-Isidro said.

“It’s life changing to be a part of this, to be able to remodel this, and be up close to a part of history,” he said.

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