For the first time in over a decade, Bernardo Yorba Middle School eighth-grader Coral Hsu earned a spot in the finals for the Chapman University Holocaust Art and Writing Contest on March 12th, 2021.
Her winning poem illustrated the trials and barriers faced by Holocaust survivor Paula Popowski, who was sixteen when World WarⅡbegan.
The second World War began when Aldof Hitler, a government representative of Germany, organized a group of power-seeking men that were soon dubbed the infamous “Nazis”. Afterwards, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, igniting the flames that began the next World War. Throughout the entire war, more than 50,000,000 people were killed, naming it the “bloodiest war in history” (Britannica).
Paula Popowski was born on January 29, 1923, in Kałuszyn, Poland, where she lived with her parents and two siblings until the war started. According to collections.org, she was deported “from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, went to a labor camp to avoid deportation, (then) went to Warsaw and got a false ID (false name: Apolonia Borkowski).” A few years after the war, she moved to the United States where she lived for the rest of her life.
While Coral might seem like an experienced writer, she reported in an interview with the Matador Messenger, “I think I’ve only written a poem once in 6th grade besides learning about literary devices and structures of poetry in language arts, so I was really stressed out when I learned I had to write a poem on the survivor I chose.” Mrs. De Friese, her mentor in this writing process, recalls, “Coral weaves figurative language as the events progress from the 1930s to today. The poem addresses the testimony of the survivor and Coral’s account of living during a pandemic as required of the prompt.”
Those interested in reading Coral’s poem can visit this site: https://www.chapman.edu/research/institutes-and-centers/holocaust-education/_files/docs/contest-entries/PDFs%20for%20Web/coral-hsu.pdf