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VILSECK, Germany — A Vilseck High School teacher is encouraging her students to write about what it’s like to live near a former World War II concentration camp for a national high school essay contest on the Holocaust.

Tracey Thornbrugh said Vilseck students entering the contest, called the Holocaust Remembrance Project, had the advantage of living close to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, which was one of the largest concentration camps in Germany during World War II.

More than 111,000 prisoners were incarcerated in Flossenbürg and its sub-camps — 95,400 men and 16,000 women — from its opening in 1938 until its liberation by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in April 1945, according to the Jewish Virtual Library’s Web site. An estimated 73,000 prisoners died.

“Most of the prisoners had to work in the stone quarries. The malnutrition, the total lack of hygiene and medical care, and the brutality of the SS guards were the main causes of the death of thousands of prisoners in Flossenbürg as well as in its sub-camps,” the Web site states.

Thornbrugh said she took students to visit Flossenbürg before last year’s essay contest.

She also was one of eight teachers who met with eight Holocaust survivors and 10 student essay contest winners in Washington, D.C., last year.

Vilseck High School student Katherine Schaffeur, 16, who entered the contest last year and plans to enter again, said she wrote about how events similar to the Holocaust are still happening in places such as Sudan and people are still turning away.

“We need to fix it now or it is going to get worse. We are doing the same thing we did in World War II,” she said.

This year’s contest requires students to write an essay of fewer than 1,200 words. It asks students to analyze why it is so vital that the remembrance, history and lessons of the Holocaust be passed to a new generation. It also asks them to suggest what they, as students, can do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in the world.

More information about the contest is available online at: www.holocaust.hklaw.com.

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