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Resource Overview

Pedagogy for Instruction

Lesson Plans

Self-Directed Activities

Timeline of the Holocaust

Audio Glossary


Schindler's List

Classroom Poster Series

We Share The Same Sky Companion Resource

TEACH

LESSON PLAN
EDUCATOR RESOURCE: LESSON PLANS
Our Lesson Plans provide a unique experience for educators to teach about the Holocaust effectively and interactively. Lessons are organized by topics that represent major themes associated with the Holocaust in an order that is roughly chronological; the modular design of the Lessons allows for adaption and customization to specific grade levels and subject areas. The integration of rich content in each Lesson helps students construct an authentic and comprehensive portrait of the past as they frame their own thoughts about what they are learning, resulting in a deeper level of interest and inquiry. Each lesson includes:
  • 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
For more information, questions or concerns please contact us.
PEDAGOGY PRINCIPLES FOR EFFECTIVE HOLOCAUST INSTRUCTION

PEDAGOGICAL PRINCIPLES FOR EFFECTIVE HOLOCAUST INSTRUCTION



December 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, which depicts the true story of Oskar Schindler—a man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. It was Spielberg’s experience making this film that inspired him to collect and preserve the testimonies of over 54,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, a pursuit which ultimately led to the creation of what is now USC Shoah Foundation.

In honor of Universal Pictures’ rerelease of Schindler’s List, Echoes & Reflections has created a short, classroom-ready Companion Resource, that will help educators to provide important historical background and context to the film, as well as explore powerful true stories of rescue, survival, and resilience with their students.

Additionally, the following videos, recorded at Yad Vashem, feature Schindler survivors who speak of the impact Oskar Schindler had on their lives.


EVA LAVI TESTIMONY
Eva Lavi was the youngest survivor from Schindler’s list. She was two years old when the war began.
WATCH
EVA LAVI TESTIMONY
NAHUM & GENIA MANOR
Nahum Manor met and fell in love with his wife, Genia, in Schindler’s factory. Watch him read a letter at Schindler’s gravesite, expressing what he meant to them.
WATCH
NAHUM & GENIA MANOR




Visit the IWitness page commemorating the 25th anniversary of Schindler’s List for numerous additional resources to support teaching with this film.

CLASSROOM POSTER SERIES
INSPIRING THE HUMAN STORY
Echoes & Reflections is excited to announce that our poster series: Inspiring the Human Story, is now available in PDF format, free of cost.

The posters feature the powerful words and experiences of Holocaust survivor and memoirist Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt, and Anne Frank rescuer, Miep Gies. Each poster promotes meaningful conversation and reflection in the classroom, whether in person or in a virtual setting, and inspires students with powerful human stories of the Holocaust that can continue to guide agency and action as a result of studying this topic.

To support you in these efforts, we have also compiled several suggested classroom activities from teachers in our network that may be of use and interest.



Please fill out the form below to access and download your PDF posters.

WE SHARE THE SAME SKY

USC Shoah Foundation’s first podcast, We Share The Same Sky, seeks to brings the past into 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, Rachael, on a search to retrace her grandmother’s history.



A self-portrait of Rachael while she is living on a Danish farm that is owned by the granddaughter of Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2017

In order to enhance its classroom use, USC Shoah Foundation and Echoes & Reflections have created a Companion Educational Resource to support teachers as they introduce the podcast to their students. This document provides essential questions for students, as well as additional resources and content to help build context and framing for students’ understanding of the historical events addressed in the podcast.

Access to the podcast, as well as additional supporting materials—including IWitness student activities, academic standards alignment, and general strategies for teaching with podcasts—can all be found at the We Share The Same Sky page in IWitness.

Note: Due to the subject nature, the podcast is appropriate for older students, grades 10-12. As always, teachers should review the content fully in advance to determine its appropriateness for their student population.



After many years of research and digitizing the archive her grandmother left behind, Rachael set out to retrace her grandmother’s 17 years of statelessness. Her intention was to travel via the same modes of transportation and to live similar style lives as to what her grandmother did during the war and in the years after. That meant that when she got to Denmark, she moved to a farm. Rachael moved in with the granddaughter of her grandmother’s foster mother from World War II and traded her labor for room and board as Hana once did. This picture is from that first visit in the winter of 2015. Since this time, Rachael has spent many more months living on this farm. It is owned by Sine Christiansen and her family. Sine is the granddaughter of Jensine, one Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2015


A self portrait of Rachael overlooking the exact spot in Southern Sweden where her grandmother’s refugee boat came to shore in 1943. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2016
RESCUE AND RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS
YOU CANNOT HELP THE WHOLE WORLD. BUT THOSE THAT ARE WITHIN YOUR REACH, YOU CAN TREAT AND RESPECT AS HUMAN BEINGS.

- RABBI BENT MELCHIOR, JEWISH SURVIVOR

PREPARING TO TEACH THIS UNIT  

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 rescuers and aid providers and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.

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  • It is important for students to understand that the rescuers they will learn about in this unit were the exception rather than the rule. During the Holocaust, six million Jews were murdered, among them 1.5 million children. It is unknown how many people managed to survive through the situations described in this unit, but it is known that they were only the fortunate few. While it is natural to relate to the inherent hope of successful rescue stories, students should be reminded that most rescue attempts failed and the victim, and in some cases both the rescuer and the victim, were murdered when they were caught.

  • Information about rescuers like the “Righteous Among the Nations” should be taught within the larger context of the Holocaust. Learning about rescuers without focusing on other aspects of the Holocaust might give students the impression that rescuers were the majority, when in fact they were a very small portion of the population. The Holocaust is a grim reminder of how indifference can become the norm. Reviewing rescue attempts in light of the millions of bystanders makes this unit even more important to study.

  • A rescuer might seem to students as a perfect person with “angelic” characteristics. This can cause students to feel distant from the rescuer’s acts. Discuss with students that those individuals identified as “Righteous Among the Nations” (e.g., Oskar Schindler) were “normal” people with human faults even though they performed “righteous acts.” In doing so, students can better relate to the rescuers and begin to see that ordinary people can perform extraordinary acts, and such actions can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Though there is no universal set of rescuer characteristics, research on the motivations of rescuers have pointed to some patterns. Rescuers were often raised by parents who taught acceptance, favored moral lessons over punishment, and modeled caring behavior. Interviews with hundreds of rescuers reveal that most were empathetic, independent thinkers, and followed their own values even when they conflicted with public opinion. These internal qualities were found to be more motivating than certain external factors, such as religion, profession, social class, or even prior experience with Jewish people. Though each rescuer was unique, their commonalities may be instructive for students by highlighting qualities that we are all capable of developing.


Close -
ABOUT THIS UNIT
Introduction

This unit provides students with an opportunity to learn about the types of rescue that occurred in Nazi-occupied Europe and to consider the moral and ethical choices that non-Jews made in order to help Jews survive. Students analyze visual history testimony, primary source material, and various texts in order to deepen their understanding of the factors that influenced individuals, groups, and societies to act on behalf of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Throughout the unit, students have an opportunity to consider the price of apathy and indifference in the face of injustice.

Essential Questions
  • What difference can one person make in the lives of others?
  • In what ways were rescuers both extraordinary and ordinary?
  • How can studying the choices of rescuers during the Holocaust influence our choices today?
  • What is the price to society of apathy and indifference in the face of injustice?
Objectives
Students will:
  • Identify forms of assistance provided to Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust.

  • Analyze the motivations of non-Jewish rescuers in their efforts to help Jews survive during the Holocaust.

  • Evaluate the moral and ethical choices individuals and groups made when deciding whether or not to help Jews.

  • Identify the risks involved when non-Jews helped Jews.

  • Interpret visual history testimony and other primary source material to understand the factors that influenced rescuers.

  • Discuss how commemorating the acts of Holocaust rescuers can counter complacency and hate in today’s world.




ACADEMIC STANDARDS
The materials in this unit address many Common Core State Standards.
View More »

  TESTIMONY VIDEO GUIDE
View More »

  ASSET RESOURCE GUIDE
View More »

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Testimony Reflections View More »


  ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME

120-150 minutes

LESSON PLAN:

The Decision to Rescue


Introduction  

In this lesson, students investigate different ways in which non-Jews intervened to save the lives of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Through case studies, survivor testimony, and analysis of texts, students identify the various factors that influenced rescuers to act and explore the moral complexities of their behavior.

PART 1: WHAT LED SOME PEOPLE TO RESCUE JEWISH PEOPLE DURING THE HOLOCAUST?
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
 
1In small groups, students explore one of the case studies below, which all highlight a pivotal moment in the lives of ordinary individuals faced with the decision to help Jewish victims of the Holocaust or remain uninvolved. Groups discuss the situation and record their thoughts in response to the questions at the bottom of the handout.

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Case Studies of Rescuers and Liberators View More »
  • Case Study: Arie van Mansum
  • Case Study: Renee Scott
  • Case Study: Roddie Edmonds
2The class gathers and discusses their reactions to the case studies, especially the factors that might have led each individual to help or remain uninvolved.
3Students watch testimony clips and review the biographical information of the individuals profiled in the case studies, who all made the decision to come to the rescue of Jewish people: [L]Arie van Mansum[/L], [L]Renee Scott[/L], and Roddie Edmonds (bio only). As they watch and review, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout, found at the beginning of this unit.  pin1
  ARIE VAN MANSUM
  RENEE SCOTT

  NOTE
View More »
4After viewing the testimony clips and reading the bios, students journal and/or participate in a whole group discussion in response to some of the following questions:
  • What motivated each individual to help? What personal values or other factors led them to take action?

  • Did each of these individuals set out to help Jewish people prior to their involvement? How did their participation evolve?

  • What were the risks involved in each person’s decision to help? What do you think enabled them to take such great risks?

  • What consequences did Arie and Renee suffer for their rescue efforts? Do they seem to regret or feel right about the choices they made? What do you take away from this?

  • How have the stories of these individuals and the choices they made affected you?


5The handout, Those Who Dared to Rescue, is distributed. Individually or in pairs, students read and annotate the handout by highlighting examples of factors that influenced rescuers and jotting their reactions in the margins. The class then discusses some of the following questions:

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Those Who Dared to Rescue View More »
  • What were some of the conditions that made rescue so rare and exceptional during the Holocaust?

  • What forms did rescue take during the Holocaust? Did any of these types of rescue surprise you? Explain.

  • What were the motivations of the rescuers profiled in the handout?

  • What risks did rescuers face? How did they manage these risks?

  • What are some of the basic human needs that rescuers needed to provide for Jewish victims? What difficulties did this present to rescuers?

  • In the handout, Elie Wiesel is quoted as saying, “The gates of compassion seem to have been closed…the outside world adopted an attitude of either complicity or indifference.” What led some to overcome indifference and act with compassion?

  • Would you characterize those who rescued Jews as heroes? Why?


PART 2: WERE RESCUERS ORDINARY PEOPLE OR EXTRAORDINARY HEROES?
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
 
6Students continue to think about the motivations of rescuers and the notion of heroism by analyzing a speech by Miep Gies, one of Anne Frank’s rescuers. The handout Anne Frank’s Legacy is distributed and students read it individually or as a class. Students then conduct a “one-question interview” using the following process:

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Anne Frank’s Legacy View More »
  1. In small groups, students identify a central theme in the speech and encapsulate it in a word (e.g., heroism, empathy, indifference, othering, risk, remorse).
  2. Groups generate one question related to their theme to pose to others. The question should have a direct connection to the reading. (E.g., Miep says she was not a hero, just a very common person. What do you think?)
  3. Students write their question at the top of a sheet of paper. They circulate around the room and find a partner (not from their small group). Partners interview one another by posing their question and recording a summary of the response. Students repeat this process until they have interviewed at least three peers.
  4. Students return to their small groups and discuss the responses they received to their questions. At the bottom of the page on which they took notes, students write a brief reflection on the conclusions they can draw from their interviews.
7The class gathers to discuss the conclusions they drew from their one-person interviews and the insights they took away from Miep Gies’ speech.
8Students are assigned one of the following exercises in order to deepen their understanding that rescuers were ordinary people with human faults even though they performed extraordinary acts.

  IWITNESS ACTIVITY
Oskar Schindler: A Flawed Hero
here »
  STUDENT HANDOUT
The Girl in the Green Sweater View More »
  KRISTINE KEREN

  NOTE
View More »
  1. IWitness – Oskar Schindler: A Flawed Hero: In this web-based activity, students investigate the ethical complexity of Schindler by analyzing testimony, engaging in written reflection, and developing a word cloud representing what they have learned. [NOTE: To use IWitness activities, teachers must set up a class within the system and assign work to students, who then create their own account to access the assignment.]
  2. Leopold Socha: Socha was a sewer worker in Lwów (pronounced Lvov), then in Poland, who hid and cared for a group of Jewish people in the sewers beneath the city streets. Though he engaged in illegal activity during his lifetime and held some antisemitic views, Socha evolved to care deeply about the people in his charge. Students follow the steps below to investigate Socha’s story. [NOTE: In preparation for this activity, the excerpts from the handout, The Girl in the Green Sweater, are enlarged and posted at four different stations.]  pin1
    • Watch the testimony clip and read the biography of [L]Kristine Keren[/L], who was 8 years old when she hid with her family in Lwów’s sewers. Fill in the Testimony Reflections handout as you view.
    • Move around the room and read the excerpts from The Girl in the Green Sweater by Krystyna Chiger (Kristine Keren). As you read each, participate in a “group annotation” by attaching a sticky note with your reaction to the passage and/or your classmates’ comments.
    • Divide into small groups and discuss some of the following questions:
      • Did Socha’s troubled background surprise you? How did this affect your perception of this particular rescuer and rescuers in general?
      • What is redemption and what role did it play in Socha’s decisions? Do you believe that people can transform over time? Explain.
      • How did Krystyna’s parents know that Socha saw them as “human beings instead of a group of desperate Jews”? How does this relate to other rescuers you have learned about?
      • Rescuers are often described as selfless (concerned more with others’ needs than one’s own). Would you characterize Socha as selfless? Why?
9As a summative task, students create a “3 x 3” journal addressing the question below, posed by Elie Wiesel in one of the unit readings. The journal is a grid that includes the names of three rescuers about whom students have learned in the first column, and unique qualities or motivations for each in the other columns. Students cite evidence from unit sources to support their ideas.

“Only a few had the courage to care – these few men and women were vulnerable, afraid, helpless. What made them different from their fellow citizens?”



  ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME

120 Minutes

LESSON PLAN:

Groups that Rescued


Introduction  

In this lesson, students consider groups of people that engaged in rescue efforts during the Holocaust. Through textual sources and excerpts from a podcast, students investigate the conditions in Denmark that allowed for the rescue of over 7,000 Jews in that nation. Students then analyze visual history testimonies and primary source documents to learn why the Kindertransport program in Great Britain was an exceptional example of rescue.

PART 1: WHAT FACTORS MADE THE RESCUE OF DENMARK’S JEWS POSSIBLE?
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
 
1In pairs, students discuss the prompt below. The class then gathers and focuses on the examples of groups who helped others. They consider what conditions or influences might have enabled these groups to overcome the bystander effect.

In psychology, the “bystander effect” says the more people there are who witness someone in distress, the less responsible each individual feels to help. The likelihood that a person will receive help decreases as the number of witnesses increases. Discuss one instance in which a group of people neglected to help or acted to help someone in need. Why do you think the group behaved as it did in that instance?

2Students learn that, during this lesson, they will explore groups who helped Jewish victims of the Holocaust despite the many pressures to remain uninvolved. They begin by listening to excerpts from the podcast, We Share the Same Sky. Chapter V of the podcast recounts the rescue operation carried out by large numbers of Danish people that saved 7,200 Jewish lives in October 1943.  pin1
  We Share the Same Sky

  NOTE
View More »
3Students prepare a character map to be completed while listening to the podcast. Before listening, students are introduced to the story’s three central characters and note information about them in the center of their map. While listening, students add other characters from the story to their maps. For each character, they list their role, how they helped, and/or why they helped (The handout, We Share the Same Sky Excerpts, includes a transcript of the passages for students who would benefit from a text version).

  STUDENT HANDOUT
We Share the Same Sky Excerpts View More »
4Students further reflect on the rescue operation through an analysis of quotes by people who were part of Danish society at the time. Each student receives a quote, cut apart from the handout Quotes: Danish Rescue and Resistance. (As there are only 12 quotes, more than one student may receive the same quote.) Students move around the room and find a partner. The partners read aloud and discuss their quotes. They add new “characters” to their maps, noting the motivations of rescuers. Students find a new partner and repeat this process until they have considered at least three quotes.  pin1

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Quotes: Danish Rescue and Resistance View More »

  NOTE
View More »
5Individually or in pairs, students read the Rescue in Denmark handout for additional context on the rescue operation. They annotate the handout by highlighting the roles and motivations of people who helped Jews, focusing particularly on “The Elsinore Sewing Club.” Students continue to add information to their character maps.

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Rescue in Denmark View More »
6Students share their character maps in small groups and identify common behaviors and motivations across the various members of Danish society. The class gathers and discusses some of the following questions:
  • How was the situation for Danish Jews different from that of Jews in other German-occupied countries? How did things change beginning in 1943?

  • How and why did members of “The Elsinore Sewing Club” get involved in rescue efforts? What consequences did they suffer for their actions?

  • In general, what commonalities did you observe regarding the motivations of Danish people who supported the rescue efforts? What were their stated reasons for helping?

  • Why do you think so many Christian Danes were willing to aid Jewish people when antisemitism throughout Europe was so widespread?

  • What types of cultural and political systems in a nation allow for moral action such as the rescue in Denmark?


PART 2: WHY IS THE KINDERTRANSPORT PROGRAM AN EXCEPTIONAL EXAMPLE OF RESCUE?
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
 
7The handout, Background: Kindertransport, is projected or distributed. Individually or as a class, students read this brief overview and note any questions that arise for them about the Kindertransport program. These questions are posted so that the class can revisit them as they learn more.

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Background: Kindertransport View More »
8Students watch testimony clips of Jewish survivors who were part of the Kindertransport: [L]Eric Richmond[/L], [L]Lynn Orne[/L], and [L]Vera Gissing[/L]. As they watch the clips, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout.
  Eric Richmond
  Lynn Orne
  Vera Gissing
9After viewing the testimony clips, students journal or participate in a whole group discussion in response to some of the following questions:


  IWITNESS ACTIVITY
The Kindertransport: History and Individual Experiences (Grades 6-8)
here »

  IWITNESS ACTIVITY
Kindertransport: "From the mother who will never forget you" (Grades 9-10)
here »
  • When Eric Richmond shares, “I didn’t want to go,” what feelings do you imagine this 15-year-old boy experienced on the day of his transport? What emotions might his parents have been going through as they convinced him to go?

  • When the grown-ups told the children that they would follow in several weeks, do you think they believed this themselves? Explain.

  • What awareness did these survivors have, as children, about why they were being sent away? What impact might this have had on such young people?

  • Why does Lynn Orne say that her “one overwhelming feeling was gratitude to my parents”?

  • What acts of kindness did Vera Gissing’s foster family exhibit? What did this mean to Vera?


10Students analyze primary documents that deepen their understanding of public sentiment regarding the Jewish refugee crisis in the late 1930s. In pairs, students are assigned one of the handouts below to examine. After reading the document, they discuss and/or write responses to the “Think it Through” questions on the handout. Then two pairs who have read different documents join together. Each pair presents a summary of their document and, as a group, they compare British and American viewpoints as represented in the source material. Through this exercise, the class considers how exceptional it was for Great Britain to accept Jewish refugees in a climate in which most other nations had closed their doors.  pin1
  • Lord Baldwin’s Appeal, Great Britain, 1938
  • Letter to the Editor, Arizona Republic, 1939

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Lord Baldwin’s Appeal, Great Britain, 1938 View More »

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Letter to the Editor, Arizona Republic, 1939 View More »

  NOTE
View More »
11Students review letters written by the parents of Kindertransport children in order to consider their experiences and what they sacrificed to rescue their own children. In small groups, students are assigned one or both of the documents below. After reading the background and letters, they select three of the “Reflect and Respond” questions to explore through writing or discussion.
  • Postcards from a Father
  • Letters from a Mother

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Postcards from a Father View More »

  STUDENT HANDOUT
Letters from a Mother View More »
12As a summative task, students respond to the words below from Rabbi Bent Melchior in We Share the Same Sky. Students fold a sheet of paper in half. On one side, they list at least three ways in which Holocaust rescuers embody the idea in the quote, citing evidence from lesson sources. On the other side of the sheet of paper, they list at least three ways in which they can apply this idea to their own lives.
    “You cannot help the whole world. But those that are within your reach, you can treat and respect as human beings.”


      ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME

    60 minutes + time for research project

    LESSON PLAN:

    Righteous Among the Nations


    Introduction  

    In this lesson, students learn about the designation, “Righteous Among the Nations,” and its significance in the history of the Holocaust. Using visual history testimony, primary source documents, and other texts, students investigate the actions and impact of rescuers designated as “Righteous,” and inquire into the importance of their stories in today’s world.

    PART 1: WHO ARE THE “RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS”?
    Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
     
    1Students write the term selfless in the middle of a sheet of paper. They engage in a brief free-write in response to the following questions: “What does it mean to do something truly selfless? Is it important to be recognized for selfless acts?” Students write narratively, free associate, and/or sketch their thoughts and then share with a partner. The class learns that they will be investigating Holocaust rescuers who have been recognized for their selfless acts with the designation, “Righteous Among the Nations.”
    2Students watch a testimony clip of a rescuer designated as “Righteous Among the Nations”: [L]Irene Gut-Opdyke[/L]. As they watch the clip, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout.
      Irene Gut-Opdyke
    3After viewing the testimony clip, students journal or participate in a whole group discussion in response to some of the following questions:
    • What did Irene see that made her tremble​ and understand what was “really happening” for the first time? What impact did this have on her, and how can you tell?

    • What were the challenges and risks Irene faced as she helped the Jewish people hide and escape?

    • Why was Irene warned not to appear as a “Jew-lover”? Why do you think she chose to help despite this caution?

    • What does the comment ​“there was no time to think, just to do​”​ reveal about rescuers?

    • How did Irene react when the group offered to give themselves up? What do you think caused her to say this?

    • How did you feel when Irene said she was “so happy I have a place for my friends”? What emotions come through from Irene and how did her story affect you?


    4Students learn that Irene was designated as a “Righteous Among the Nations” and are provided with the following background information:  pin1

      NOTE
    View More »

    In 1953, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority Law, which created Yad Vashem. The law mandated that Yad Vashem identify and recognize non-Jews who had risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews in countries that had been under Nazi rule or that had collaborated with the German regime. In order to recognize people as Righteous, Yad Vashem set up a public Commission, headed by a Supreme Court Justice, which examines each case and is responsible for granting the title. Those recognized receive a medal and a certificate of honor and their names are commemorated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. The medal is inscribed with a phrase from the Talmud, a Jewish religious text, that says, “He who saves one life saves the world entire.” The historical account of the Holocaust would not be complete without the extraordinary stories of the “Righteous Among the Nations.”

    5In pairs, students discuss what they think the criteria should be for receiving the “Righteous” designation based on what they have learned about rescuers thus far. The handout, Yad Vashem Criteria for “Righteous Among the Nations” is then distributed and the class reviews together. Students discuss the following questions:

      STUDENT HANDOUT
    Yad Vashem Criteria for “Righteous Among the Nations” View More »
    • Do you agree with the “Righteous Among the Nations” criteria? Is there anything you would add? Explain.

    • Did you think the number of individuals identified as “Righteous Among the Nations” would be higher? Why?

    • What surprises you about the information on the chart listing the “Righteous” by country? Does this data change your impression of certain nations or raise any questions for you?

    • What does it mean to an individual to be acknowledged for selfless and life-saving acts? What does it mean for the community around that person? How does this relate to a community that you belong to or know about?

    • What does the establishment of a project like this say about how victims of the Holocaust attempted to pay tribute to people who stood by their side at a time of persecution and tragedy?


    PART 2: WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMEMORATING THE STORIES OF THE “RIGHTEOUS”?
    Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
     
    6Students learn that they will investigate a “Righteous Among the Nations” designee in detail, and create a “one-pager” reflecting their actions and impact. The “one-pager” is a physical or digital page on which students convey their unique understandings and insights in a creative fashion that incorporates textual and visual elements. The “one-pager” for this assignment:


        IWITNESS ACTIVITY
      Righteous Among the Nations
      here »
      7Students work on their investigations individually, in pairs, or small groups. They are assigned one of the options below – a class investigation of the same individual using the handouts provided or an independent investigation of different individuals using online resources.

        STUDENT HANDOUT
      Budapest: Historical Background View More »
        STUDENT HANDOUT
      A Swedish Rescuer in Budapest View More »
      1. Class investigation of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in German-occupied Hungary by issuing protective passports and sheltering them in buildings designated as Swedish territory:
        • Read the handout, Budapest: Historical Background
        • Read the handout, A Swedish Rescuer in Budapest and note the actions and impact of the subject as well as your reactions
        • View the testimonies of Vera Goodkin, who was saved by Wallenberg, and Per Anger, a Swedish diplomat who served with Wallenberg (To view the testimonies, please click the link and navigate to the “Videos” tab). Use the Testimony Reflections handout to record reactions and ideas.
      2. Independent investigation of a subject from the “Righteous Among the Nations” Featured Stories page:
        • Choose a subject that includes a collection of photos, videos, and documents.
        • Read the story on the main page and note the actions and impact of the subject as well as your reactions.
        • Observe at least one photo and note what it reveals about the subject’s life or impact.
        • View at least one video and note what it reveals about the subject’s life or impact.
        • Analyze at least one document and note what it reveals about the actions and impact of the subject.
      8Students’ “one-pagers” are displayed in a gallery online or in the classroom. Half of the class stands (physically or virtually) by their work and provides a brief tour or explanation of their “one-pagers’ to the other half of the class, who circulates and observes. Students then switch roles so that the tour guides become the observers. Students observe at least three of their classmates’ “one-pagers” in this way.
      9Following the gallery walk, the class debriefs using the following questions:
      • Is the designation of “righteous” a useful one to bestow on certain people? Why?

      • Are rescuers heroes or ordinary people who performed heroic acts? Is there a difference? Explain.

      • How did rescuers make an impact beyond the individuals they helped directly?

      • Do the “righteous” stories matter in today’s world? Explain.

      • What is the importance of commemorating the stories of the “righteous” and other rescuers?


      10As a summative task, students respond to the Talmudic idea, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” Using evidence from unit sources, they list at least five ways in which the behaviors of rescuers had an impact beyond the individuals whose lives they saved.
      Making Connections  

      The ideas below are offered as ways to extend the lessons in this unit and make connections to related historical events, current issues, and students’ own experiences. These topics can be integrated directly into Echoes & Reflections lessons, used as stand-alone teaching ideas, or investigated by students engaged in project-based learning.

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      1Visit IWitness (iwitness.usc.edu) for testimonies, resources, and activities to help students learn more about rescuers and aid providers during the Holocaust.
      2Write a letter to someone that you learned about in this unit. Tell the person what you are thinking and feeling after learning about their experiences.
      3Think about the people you met in this unit. All of them see themselves as “ordinary” people and yet they all did extraordinary things. Write an essay in which you address the following questions: How might this be explained? Why do you think some people became rescuers during the Holocaust while most remained bystanders? What moral choices were made by rescuers during the Holocaust and what were the ongoing challenges they faced?
      4Read either Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anchor Books, 1996) or Miep Gies’ Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (Touchstone, 1988). In small groups made up of students who have read both books, develop a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the experiences of Anne Frank and Miep Gies. Refer to the Echoes & Reflections Timeline of the Holocaust to better understand the events in the books within the larger context of the Holocaust.
      5View Yad Vashem’s online exhibit, Besa: A Code of Honor. It tells the story of the heroic actions of the people of Albania – the only European country with a Muslim majority – who rescued Jews during the Holocaust in keeping with their national code of honor, Besa (literally “to keep the promise”). Read the stories of at least three Albanians designated as “Righteous Among the Nations.” Create a portrait of one by sketching an outline of the individual(s) or a site in the story and filling the inside with writing and imagery that conveys how Besa was fulfilled. As a follow-up, write about your personal code of honor and how you can use these moral guidelines to help others.
      6Together with a partner, choose one of the following poems, written by survivors who were part of the Kindertransport and examining questions of guilt and duty: Holocaust 1944 and When It Happened. Read the poem together and discuss or write in response to some of the following questions:
      • Who is the speaker in the poem? To whom is she speaking? What is their relationship to one another?
      • What emotions is the speaker experiencing? What do you think might be causing these emotions?
      • What is the theme of the poem? Pick out one line or stanza that you believe contributed significantly to the theme of the poem and explain why you selected this particular line or stanza.
      • What questions are left unanswered for you, as the reader? Why are these questions unanswered?

        STUDENT HANDOUT
      Holocaust 1944 View More »
        STUDENT HANDOUT
      When It Happened View More »
      7Write about a time when you made a conscious decision to help someone in a difficult situation or about a time when someone came forward to help you. Describe the event in detail and tell how you felt during the situation. What were some of the complications or difficulties that you faced? Were there any moral or ethical dilemmas that needed to be addressed? What were your feelings after the situation ended?
      KEY WORDS
      antisemitism
      Aryan
      Auschwitz-Birkenau  
      Battle of the Bulge
      Buchenwald  
      bystander
      concentration camp
      deportation
      extermination camp
      “Final Solution”
      Gestapo  
      Holocaust
      Kindertransport
      Knesset  
      Kristallnacht Pogrom  
      Mauthausen  
      Nazi
      occupation
      perpetrator
      Persecution
      propaganda
      resistance
      Righteous Among the Nations
      scapegoat
      Theresienstadt
      underground
      Vichy  
      victim
      Wagner-Rogers Bill
      Warsaw ghetto
      xenophobia  
      Yad Vashem
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