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CLASSROOM LESSONS

TEACHING



Recent innovations in Holocaust education empower teachers to create memorable—even life-changing—pedagogies that were not conceivable a decade ago. Cutting-edge technologies offer powerful pathways to achieve key learning aims and outcomes, while grabbing the attention of students who crave new experiences in their learning. However, like all Holocaust education resources, these technologies require a conscientious touch and careful framing to maximize their learning potential and ensure students are prepared.

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USC Shoah Foundation and Echoes & Reflections believe that pedagogical goals must come first—and that advances in technology should only be applied in service of considered educational outcomes. In genocide education—especially when working with personal stories entrusted to us by survivors—it is paramount that technology and innovation are only wielded to amplify a survivor’s message, and that they never distort or decontextualize the storytelling.

Keeping the above context in mind, below are several innovative resources available to Echoes & Reflections educators:

1. Dimensions in Testimony

Newly available in IWitness, Dimensions in Testimony allows students and educators to ask questions that prompt real-time responses from a pre-recorded video of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter—engaging in a virtual conversation from their own computers, and redefining what inquiry-based education can be. Through Dimensions in Testimony, it is possible to speak with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides from anywhere—and that possibility will remain in perpetuity.

Each student’s responses will be wholly unique because each student chooses and asks their own questions. As such, Dimensions in Testimony offers students an unprecedented degree of control over their learning—resulting in deep, empathetic engagement with subject matter.

2.  Willesden READS

The Willesden READS Program engages students through the story of Lisa Jura, who was rescued from the Holocaust in Vienna by the Kindertransport. This program has a rich history of in-person engagements: author, performer and virtuoso concert pianist Mona Golabek has shared her mother’s story on stage for over one million students around the world. But facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Mona partnered with Echoes & Reflections, USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education to transform the program into a livestreamed, remote event, thereby bringing Willesden READS to students and teachers in select cities across the United States in spite of the global health crisis.

Even before this new adaptation, the Willesden READS Program had always been a creative force on the cutting edge of Holocaust education. Fusing multiple media—the book, The Children of Willesden Lane, alongside the live performance and a series of learning engagements beyond.

3. Timeline of the Holocaust

The Echoes & Reflections interactive timeline—designed foremost for student use—chronicles key dates in the history of the Holocaust, spanning from 1933-1945. With the Timeline of the Holocaust, students explore history through the collective expertise and primary source archives of ADL, USC Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem, who have constructed an approachable, tactile learning tool that centers on primary sources and individual experiences to ensure that the human impact of the Holocaust is never forgotten.

The Timeline of the Holocaust is designed to be flexible and meet the needs of educators across their curriculum. It can be a resource for students and educators to consult, or it can be the foundation of a multi-day research project.

4. We Share the Same Sky Podcast

Produced by USC Shoah Foundation and listed as one of HuffPost’s best podcasts of 2019, We Share The Same Sky brings the past into the present through a granddaughter’s decade-long journey to retrace her grandmother’s story of survival. We Share The Same Sky tells the two stories of these women—the grandmother, Hana, a refugee who remained one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and the granddaughter, host Rachael Cerrotti, on a search to retrace her grandmother’s story.

Experienced Holocaust educators at Echoes & Reflections and USC Shoah Foundation have built a series of bold educational resources to support this pioneering podcast which intimately confronts the Holocaust’s intergenerational impacts and explains what its legacy can tell us about our world today.

To learn more about how We Share The Same Sky and other podcasts can support Holocaust education, join our webinar on 5/3 at 4 PM ET.

5. IWalk

USC Shoah Foundation’s first mobile application, IWalk (available in the App Store and Google Play), offers visitors and students curated tours that connect specific locations of memory with testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide, violence and mass atrocity. IWalks are carefully curated by USC Shoah Foundation’s team of educators and scholars who help contextualize and humanize the history at sites of memory through testimony, photographs, and maps.

Educators in the United States currently have access to a series of IWalks in Philadelphia, which create potent multimedia learning experiences for students, educators and community members who visit the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza.

So much more is on the horizon at Echoes & Reflections and USC Shoah Foundation, and we cannot wait to share. We have already arrived at the future of Holocaust education, and it’s ready for use in your classroom—today.

 

About the author: Greg Irwin is Head of Content Management on the Education team at USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. He is the Institute’s partner lead for Echoes & Reflections, and manages both the Echoes & Reflections and IWitness websites, as well as the IWalk mobile application.



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CURRENT EVENTS

TEACHING



When it comes to the Holocaust, is it appropriate to make comparisons to current events? While not a new phenomenon, many individuals invoke imagery and language traditionally associated with the Holocaust to describe or address contemporary events and personalities and educators often wrestle with the question of how comparisons can or should be made in the context of their teaching.

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We had the honor of discussing this very issue with Professor Yehuda Bauer, world-renowned historian and Holocaust scholar, and Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem. What follows is an abridged version of our conversation:

Q: Teachers today often have difficulty knowing whether they can make comparisons between the Holocaust and current events. What advice can you give them?

A:  One has to remember that all historical comparisons have to be based on two things: 1) the parallels between two events, and 2) the differences. When you do not mention the differences between two events then the fact that there are some similarities is meaningless. Comparison is the toolkit of every historian and we do it all the time. However, we must make it very clear that we not only compare the parallels but also the differences. Teachers must explain the comparisons and the historical context very carefully.

You have similar comparisons all the time: everything bad is compared to the Holocaust or to the Nazis. That in itself is not such a bad thing. It is a good thing to realize that Nazism is bad. However, teachers have to clearly explain to their students that comparisons have to be very carefully examined with knowledge and with understanding. Do not deny the fact that historical comparisons are important and possible, but they have to be weighed very carefully to make students aware that they must look at events and comparisons in a historically balanced way.

The fact that the Holocaust is such a central issue in so many places is because it is still the unprecedented genocide. It can happen again – not in exactly the same way because nothing is repeated in exactly the same way but, after the Holocaust, there were genocides where the perpetrators consciously learned from the Nazis, like in Rwanda.

When you study the Holocaust, you can take certain dilemmas from it and transpose them very, very carefully and show parallels.

Q: Recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger made a video after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol where he made comparisons to his experiences growing up in Austria and the build-up to Kristallnacht[1] with what happened on January 6, 2021.  What are your thoughts on this analogy?

A: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s statement was, without doubt, made with the best of intentions. However, comparing the events at the Capitol building to Kristallnacht is absolutely false.

Certain parallels can be made with the past and, with careful consideration, the lesson to be learned in this case is the defense of democratic values, which was missing in Germany. Abandonment of democratic values should be prevented in democratic countries like the United States. We have to fight for these democratic values. The parallel in this situation - the dangerous parallel – is the global rise of nationalism, segregation, and dictatorships and the anti-liberal, authoritarian regimes that are taking over in more and more places in different ways.

When comparing the past to the present, be very careful.

Q: The connections being made by teachers are not necessarily always related to other genocides but sometimes relate to modern-day political events. For example, some people compared the treatment and incarceration of asylum seekers and refugees at the southern US border last year to concentration camps in Germany in the 1930s. Is this a valid comparison?

A:  Again, a comparison like this must be made very carefully. In other words, there are certain elements that are parallel, sure, but also significant differences. When the Trump administration not only prevented, or tried to prevent, the immigration of Latin Americans into the United States and separated children from their parents, there is no exact comparison between that and what happened in Germany in the 1930s because the Germans never faced any question of immigration into Germany. The question was whether they would allow any emigration from Germany - not only for Jews but also for all opponents of the Nazi regime.

In addition, the comparison of US policy at the border to “concentration camps”, which caused a big furor, was made without considering what the purpose of the German concentration camps was, historically. [Ed.: These camps exploited prisoners through harsh forced labor, and two of the concentration camps also functioned as death camps at which Jews were murdered].

Q: Let’s address the issue of relevance. Many students have no personal connection to the Holocaust, either because they are not Jewish or, geographically speaking, because the Holocaust happened in Europe, which seems far away. We know that the Holocaust was a watershed event in human history, not just Jewish history. How do we bring more meaning and relevance to our lessons? Is it helpful to use contemporary issues to teach the Holocaust?

A: The answer is yes, very clearly. What educators need to do is to emphasize that the whole world was involved in World War II, which was a war against the Nazi regime, whose ideological centerpiece was the persecution of the Jews. The Nazis said it themselves. In Hitler’s view, World War II was a war against the Jews and documents exist to prove this.  However, Nazism endangered the whole world amongst other things in its hatred of Jews. Therefore, the Holocaust is relevant to everyone and we have to teach it.

[1] Kristallnacht, or the November pogrom, was a violent, State-sponsored attack against the Jews of the Third Reich (Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland) beginning on the night of November 9, 1938. More than 1,400 synagogues were torched; approximately 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and at least 91 Jews were murdered. https://timelineoftheholocaust.org/?evtyear=1938&evtmonth=11&evtday=9

 

About the authors: Sheryl Ochayon is the Director of Echoes & Reflections for Yad Vashem and Sarah Levy is the Program Coordinator for Echoes & Reflections at Yad Vashem.



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CLASSROOM LESSONS

TEACHING

UNCATEGORIZED



The Holocaust is not solely a European event but a human catastrophe that altered all of history including the history of the U.S.  Too often we relegate the Holocaust to a foreign event or limit the involvement of the U.S. as victors and liberators only. As we hope to instill knowledge and help our students develop into global citizens, we must approach U.S. history as intertwined with the history of the Holocaust. Although there certainly is not enough time in your curriculum to fully investigate the Holocaust in a U.S. History class, there are several opportunities to inject its lessons while also presenting a more nuanced and deeper understanding of the U.S. during this time period and the role it played in defeating Nazism.  Here are a few overarching concepts with supporting teaching tools to deepen your students’ knowledge of U.S. history, the Holocaust and, more broadly, human history:

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1. Teach that Antisemitism was and is not a European Phenomenon but a Human Plague, with Deep Roots in U.S. History that Continues to Pervade Today's Society.

America’s history of racial terror is not news. From the stain of slavery to various anti-immigrant movements throughout its history, antisemitism has also been present. Connect white supremacist thinking, racial pseudoscience, and the growing eugenics movement of the late 19th century with rising antisemitism in Europe. Reference the pro-Nazi German American Bund that was formed in the U.S. in the early 20th  century and use events and imagery that depict the growing antisemitism that happened in the U.S., like the Night at the Garden in 1939, which is referenced in this handout in our Gringlas Unit on Contemporary Antisemitism. Utilize resources like History Unfolded and Americans and the Holocaust from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to analyze what the average American knew about what was happening in Europe and how they felt about the events.

Highlight that while antisemitism and racism were being defeated in Europe, these hateful ideologies continued to exist in the U.S. Study the Double V Campaign and elevate the stories of Black soldiers serving in segregated units, some of which became liberators like Paul Parks. Challenge your students to analyze the ethics of American war tactics, including the firebombing of cities like Dresden and their decision not to bomb Auschwitz.

Expand your students’ understanding of who a perpetrator or a bystander is to include nations. Analyze why the U.S. restricted immigration, including the rejection of the Wagner-Rogers Bill in Congress and the M.S. St. Louis when it was stranded at sea off the coast of Florida. Examine the “paper walls” that made immigration so difficult and what the State Department did to make it nearly impossible for Jews to escape Nazi Germany. Balance these failures to rescue Jews with what the U.S. did to help Jews, like the creation of the War Refugee Board in 1944.

2. Utilize Timelines and Historic Events to Contextualize U.S. History with the Holocaust

Activate students’ prior knowledge of U.S. history, including their own family history, to help contextualize the events of the Holocaust. We want our students to become global citizens and recognize how events in the U.S. impact the rest of the world and vice versa. Consistently make these connections to broaden your students’ perspectives on the global nature of history. For example, the Great Depression of the 1930s was a global economic downturn, not just an American one, and it had wide-reaching repercussions. By December 7, 1941, the “Final Solution” had already begun with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union six months earlier on June 22, 1941. By the time the U.S. invaded mainland Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944, five million Jews had already been murdered.  These references can help students better understand the role of the U.S. during the Holocaust, and to consider how the country's actions today might also have a larger global impact.

3. Use a More Global Approach when Studying Postwar Events

Remember to understand history as a continuum of events. Situate the Holocaust in the broader context of European History, U.S. History, and World War II by teaching about postwar actions: from the role of the U.S. in the Nuremberg Trials to its handling of displaced persons under the stress of the impending Cold War. Looking domestically, the return of soldiers and the influx of immigrants fleeing a destroyed Europe had a major impact on the U.S. in the 1940s, ‘50s, and beyond. Our webinar, Exploring Migration Before and After the Holocaust, is a great place to start examining this topic.

This is not a comprehensive list nor is it possible to weave all these points into your U.S. History class. However, they can help you search for connecting themes and opportunities to expand your students’ perspectives, engage their minds to ask questions and think critically, and help develop them into global citizens.

 

About the author: Jesse Tannetta is a former high school teacher who is now the Operations and Outreach Manager for Echoes & Reflections. He holds a master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and is a current Ph.D. student beginning his dissertation on female concentration camp guard Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan.



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FAQs

Through a study of the Holocaust, students gain the ability to understand the potential dangers and consequences of unchecked hate and can grow into responsible citizens to recognize and prevent the proliferation of future acts of injustice. At Echoes & Reflections we are committed to supporting educators as they prepare to teach this complex subject with accuracy and effectiveness through our free professional development and collection of resources.

To learn more about our work we encourage you to view the FAQs below. Additionally, if you would like to request a training or are interested in a package of printed materials and information, please contact Jesse Tannetta, Operations & Outreach Manager.

Professional Development Programs for Educators
Classroom Planning and Instruction
1What kind of professional development programs does Echoes & Reflections offer?
We offer a range of on-site and online professional development programs for teachers; all programs provide access to a range of classroom-ready content, sound teaching pedagogy, and instructional strategies:
 
  • On-site programs: Led by experienced facilitators, on-site programs in formats up to six hours include introductory offerings, as well as thematic areas of study on a range of topics, including contemporary antisemitism, media literacy, complicity and action during the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and the refugee crisis during WWII. Learn More
  • Webinars: One-hour webinars are led by experts in the field from ADL, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem. Topics focus on historical events, classroom practice, and current events. Learn More
  • Online Course: Throughout the year, Echoes & Reflections offers the opportunity for educators to participate in a self-paced three-part online course. Led by a facilitator, participants engage with colleagues, gain access to classroom content, and consider instructional enhancements to support Holocaust instruction. Those who complete the course also have the option to earn graduate-level credit through the University of the Pacific. Learn More

2How are on-site programs scheduled and where are they held?
Echoes & Reflections plans on-site programs in partnership with education entities across the U.S., such as school districts, museums, and professional development providers, to name a few. To learn more about scheduling a program, contact Jesse Tannetta, Operations & Outreach Manager.
3Can education entities schedule an online program?
Yes! School districts, museums, and professional development providers can schedule a district- or community-wide online class, webinar or training. These programs can be co-branded and tailored to the needs and goals of the education community. To learn more about scheduling a program, contact Jesse Tannetta, Operations & Outreach Manager.
4Who leads the programs?
All of our programs are led by a diverse group of expert facilitators, many of whom have a combination of classroom experience and a strong background in Holocaust studies. These professionals are approved after successful participation in a multi-day train-the-trainer model and are required to engage in ongoing trainings throughout the year.
5How much does it cost?
Echoes & Reflections believes that learning about the Holocaust is a fundamental right of all students and thanks to generous funders, programs and materials are provided at no cost.
6Will I get continuing education credit for attending?
Many program hosts award credit that complies with local requirements, and a certificate of attendance is provided to educators in attendance upon request. All participants in online programs automatically receive a certificate of completion. Because requirements for awarding professional development hours or continuing education units vary widely from state to state, teachers will need to check with their school administration to see if Echoes & Reflections meets specific requirements for their district.
7The timing of a webinar doesn’t work for me, are there recordings available?
We archive most of our webinars for on demand viewing on our webinar recordings page. Please note, you will be required to register to view any webinar on-demand.
8What can I expect to happen at a professional development program?
Echoes & Reflections professional development programs provide the opportunity for educators to discover powerful classroom-ready resources for teaching about the Holocaust, to explore and discuss educational approaches and effective teaching strategies, and to collaborate with and learn from colleagues. Learn More
9What happens after? Is this a “one and done” experience or is this ongoing?
Educators are encouraged to continue learning with Echoes & Reflections after completing a professional development program. We offer a wide variety of trainings designed for both teachers who are new to Holocaust education and for those who are interested in deepening their learning and advancing their skills.
10How do teachers respond to the trainings?
Ongoing monitoring assesses participants’ levels of satisfaction with in-person and online programs. In 2020, 97% of respondents indicated that the program was “highly relevant to their teaching needs.” In addition, teachers agreed that as a result of the program, they:
  • Increased knowledge about the Holocaust and antisemitism (97%),
  • Learned instructional strategies to teach about the Holocaust (97%), and
  • Would recommend the program to a colleague (98%).

11Do you offer programs directly to students?
At select times throughout the year, we offer webinars directly for students and their teachers. Additionally, all of the student handouts and resources needed for student learning are included for easy access and application on the “right rail” of our online Lesson Plans. Further, our Timeline of the Holocaust was developed for student use, as either part of a larger course of study or independent learning.
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These parties are contractually prohibited from using personally identifiable information except for the purpose of providing these services.

SECURITY

Our website has security measures in place to protect against the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. This includes a firewall and 24 hour monitoring of site activities by our hosting service provider as well as 128-bit SSL encryption (where allowable by law) on all transaction oriented operations between you and Echoes & Reflections via our transaction service provider. While we use SSL encryption to protect sensitive information online, we also do everything in our power to protect user-information off-line. All of our users' information, not just the sensitive information mentioned above, is restricted in our offices. Only employees who need the information to perform a specific job (for example, our billing clerk, a customer service representative, or database administrator) are granted access to personally identifiable information. Any time new policies are added, our employees are notified and/or reminded about the importance we place on privacy, and what they are required to do to ensure our customers ' information is protected. Finally, the servers that we use to store personally identifiable information on are kept in a secure environment.

CHOICE/OPT-OUT ONLINE & OFFLINE

The following options are available for removing information from our database to discontinue receiving future communications or our service.

1. You can unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences online by following the link at the bottom of any e-mail you receive from Echoes & Reflections via HubSpot.
2. You can notify us by email at info@echoesandreflections.org of your desire to be removed from our e-mail list or contributor mailing list.

CONTACTING THE WEB SITE

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of our website or your interactions with the website, please send email us at info@echoesandreflections.org

NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes here so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and the circumstances, if any, we disclose it.
RESOURCE OVERVIEW

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