- Step-by-step procedures
- Estimated completion time
- Resources labeled by icons direct teachers to the piece of content named in the procedures
- Print-ready pages as indicated by are available as PDFs for download
- ELLIS LEWIN, JEWISH SURVIVOR
Below is information to keep in mind when teaching the content in this unit. This material is intended to help teachers consider the complexities of teaching about the ghettos and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.
During the transitional phase from the beginning of World War II before the “Final Solution” was planned and before extermination camps were built, ghettos were established. This was done in order to isolate Jews from the rest of the population, pending the formulation of a more definitive solution to the so-called “Jewish problem.” At this stage a detailed blueprint for carrying out mass murder did not yet exist; rather, death was a side effect of the starvation, disease, and overcrowding in the ghettos. For instance, more than 80,000 Jews died in the Warsaw ghetto alone. Though there was no plan, there was a wish to solve the so-called “Jewish problem” in some rapid and radical way. It was only in 1941, with the invasion of the Soviet Union, that the Nazis began murdering Jews in a systematic mass fashion, and a project for murdering all Jews only coalesced during the course of the year and into 1942.
Students often ask why more Jews did not escape from the ghettos. It is important for students to remember the extenuating circumstances that made it nearly impossible for the vast majority of Jews to flee.
This unit provides students with an opportunity to learn about the ghettos established throughout Nazi Europe and understand that the ghettos were one phase in the continuum of Nazi racial policies that sought to solve the so-called “Jewish problem.” Students will also learn about the conditions in most ghettos and how those conditions severely limited Jewish life and led to feelings of humiliation and loss of dignity. Using several primary sources, students will have an opportunity to learn that despite severe overcrowding, starvation, diseases, and grief, Jews still did their utmost to conduct their lives and retain their human dignity.
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
Establishment of the Ghettos and the Jewish Response
|1||Write the word “ghetto” on the board. Have students share what they know about the word and record their responses. Follow this discussion by sharing the history of the word.|
View More »
|2||Introduce students to Joseph Morton and Ellis Lewin. As students watch the two clips of testimony, encourage them to listen for specific examples of how ghettos during the Holocaust were different from their understanding of what is referred to as a “ghetto” today.|
|3||Ask a volunteer to explain (or draw) what Joseph said about the bridge in the Lodz ghetto. Share information about the bridge and show the photograph Jews Crossing the Bridge in the Lodz Ghetto. Ask students to discuss what they think the Jews crossing the bridge were feeling as they looked down upon the scene below.|
JEWS CROSSING THE BRIDGE IN THE LODZ GHETTO
|4||Explain to students that Nazi ideology called for expanding the rule of Germany. After conquering Poland in September 1939 (after already controlling Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia), Germany sought to dominate the whole world along with its partners, and arrange it in a “new order” based on Nazi racial ideology. According to the Nazi racial view, the populations living in Poland were deemed to be Slavs, who were considered inferior and therefore treated as such.|
|5||Distribute The Ghettos handout; have students read the text individually or as a whole group. [Optional: Teachers may want to pose several of the questions listed in procedure #6 below prior to reading the material.]|
The Ghettos View More »
|6||Have a whole-class discussion based on the questions below. Encourage students to cite evidence from the text to support their answers whenever possible.|
View More »
Information Quest: Ellis Lewin
|7||Show students the Ghettos in Europe map. Ask students to consider the following questions after studying the map:|
GHETTOS IN EUROPE
|8||Explain to students that they will now concentrate on one ghetto in particular, the Lodz ghetto in Poland. Tell students that in addition to learning background information on this particular ghetto, they will also analyze primary source documents and watch first-person visual history testimonies from survivors of the Lodz ghetto. These sources will provide a glimpse into what life was like for Jews living in ghettos between 1940 and 1944.|
|9||Distribute a copy of The Lodz Ghetto to each student and read together as a whole class. Follow with a discussion using the questions below. Have students cite evidence from the text to support their answers.|
The Lodz Ghetto View More »
|10||Divide the class into small groups and give each group a copy of the following documents: Lodz Ghetto, 1941, Poem by an Unknown Girl, and Poem by Avraham Koplowicz. Provide students with information about the photographer available in the corresponding Note.|
View More »
POEM BY AN UNKNOWN GIRL
POEM BY AVRAHAM KOPLOWICZ
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
Role of the Ghettos — The Lodz Ghetto as a Case Study
|1||Begin this lesson by explaining to students that the role of the ghetto was to control and confine Jews and that the situation in the ghetto led to Jews being weakened as well. Have students share what they already know about specific ways that the Nazis attempted to control and confine Jews in the ghettos.|
View More »
|2||Instruct students to divide a piece of paper into three columns and label the columns “control,” “confine,” and “weaken.” Introduce students to Leo Berkenwald, Milton Belfer, and George Shainfarber and then show their clips of testimonies. Have students complete the chart with specific examples they hear in the testimonies about what life was like in the Lodz ghetto.|
|3||Have students review their charts with a partner, sharing the examples that they wrote down for each of the three categories. Encourage students to discuss differences and similarities in their answers and also consider how some of the experiences that the survivors discussed might fit into more than one category.|
|4||Show students Diary Entry from the Lodz Ghetto and read the entry together. Have students identify examples from Josef’s diary entry that also illustrate how the Nazis controlled, confined, and ultimately weakened Jews forced to live in the ghetto.|
Diary Entry from the Lodz Ghetto View More »
|5||Ask students to review what they have learned thus far about what life was like for children in the Lodz ghetto. Introduce students to Eva Safferman, Ellis Lewin, and George Shainfarber and then show their clips of testimony. Follow with a discussion using the questions below.|
To learn more about what life was like for children in the ghettos, see the Jewish Resistance and The Children and Legacies beyond the Holocaust units.
|6||Explain to students that one of the diaries discovered after the city of Lodz was liberated on January 19, 1945 was the diary of a teenager named Dawid Sierakowiak. Distribute Excerpts from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak and read the background information. Read as many of the entries as possible.|
Excerpts from the Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak View More »
View More »
|7||Have a discussion using some or all of the questions below. Whenever possible, students should use specific examples from the primary sources they have investigated in this lesson to support their answers.|
|8||End this lesson by having students complete an “Exit Slip”, whereby they reflect on the information they have learned in this lesson and express their thoughts about this new information. In a paragraph, have students respond to the prompt below and submit prior to the next class period. If the “Exit Slips” are submitted electronically, the teacher may wish to post on the class website, blog, or wiki for others to see.|
PROMPT: In his testimony, Ellis Lewin states that arriving in the Lodz ghetto was “the beginning of the end.” After learning about the Lodz ghetto through both primary and secondary sources, explain what Ellis meant by this statement not only for him and his family but more broadly for the Jews of Europe. Provide specific examples to support your response.
View More »
The questions below, used in class or as homework, prompt students to reflect on what they are learning and its meaning in their own lives and in society.
These queries are excellent for journaling, allowing students to create their own primary source material. Keep in mind, the sensitive and emotional nature of the topics may preclude teacher evaluation. If journaling is used as an assessment tool, assure students that they will not be evaluated negatively for expressing opinions that may be different from others in class or from the teacher’s.
The additional activities and projects listed below can be integrated directly into the lesson or can be used to extend the lesson once it has been completed. The topics lend themselves to students’ continued study of the Holocaust as well as opportunities for students to make meaningful connections to other people and events, including relevant contemporary issues. These activities may include instructional strategies and techniques and/or address academic standards in addition to those that were identified for the lessons in this unit.
|1||Visit IWitness for testimonies, resources, and activities to help students learn more about life in the ghettos.|
|2||Using information from the Timeline, have students align events happening in Europe and other parts of the world to Dawid Sierakowiak’s diary entries in an overlapping timeline that is presented in a format of their choice. Encourage students to read additional entries of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak (Oxford University Press, 1996) to complete this assignment.|
|3||In this unit, students examined several types of primary sources . Review the potential value of these kinds of sources, and consider how each adds to our knowledge and understanding of the ghettos.. Introduce students to another kind of primary source—artifacts—by showing them the Monopoly Game from Theresienstadt Ask students to study the artifact and consider the questions below. Encourage students to review the definition of Theresienstadt in the Glossary.|
Monopoly Game View More »
|4||Introduce students to Theresienstadt by having them review the definition in the Glossary. Explain that although most of the Jews of Theresienstadt were deported and murdered, many of the drawings and poems did survive the war and some can be found in the book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly (Schocken Books, 1993). Introduce students to one of the poems from this collection, Pavel Friedman’s “The Butterfly.” Have students read the poem aloud several times and then discuss the following questions:|
The Butterfly View More »
|5||Have students research the role that music played in the lives of Jews forced to live in the ghettos. In particular, have students research one of the following ghettos: Kovno, Vilna, or Lodz. Among other sources, encourage students to refer to Yad Vashem’s Heartstrings exhibition. Have students prepare and share an oral or multimedia report on their findings.|
concentration campdeath marchEinsatzgruppen
extermination camp"Final Solution of the Jewish Question"