Chapter 2:

"Leaving Everything Behind"

Quote from the film"

When the German’s invaded Simone’s hometown in Belgium on May 10th, 1940, she said:

     "We woke up at 5:00 AM.  I remember the time. Everybody ran out into the streets. We were still in our nightclothes. There were hundreds of planes overhead! What's going on?


     ... And then my father turned around and said get back in the house and start packing.  We’re leaving. Right there and then! My dad said that each of us could only pack one bag per person. That's it? How do I choose what to leave behind?"

~ Simone, 13 years old in 1940

Discussion Starters:

  • If you had to flee your home at a moment's notice and could only pack one suitcase, what would you bring? What practical and sentimental items would you include?

Personal connection...

  • Do you have any family that quickly left their home due to religious or racial persecution?

  • What other circumstances might force a family to flee their home?

Dig a little deeper...

  • What are the similarities with other groups of refugees having to leave all behind and with the hopes of seeking refuge in another country?​

  • What were some of the forces which led European Jewish refugees to leave everything behind - taking only what they could carry?​

Dig even deeper...

  • What were the Nazi tactics when they invaded Europe? Were the planes that were dropping the bombs as Simone, Annette and Irving were trekking through war-torn Europe being used to annihilate the townspeople or disseminate them? 

  • In the film, Simone says: "We knew that the Germans were bad, but we didn’t have any idea how bad.” At that point, the film flashes forward to footage taken in 1944 of people in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.  What were the conditions for Jews in 1940? How and why did things escalate to the ways the concentration camps were at the end of the war?

  • What is a concentration camp?

  • What’s the definition of an internment camp?

  • What are some examples of the United States creating concentration camps?

What Can I do?