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As students study the Holocaust, they frequently—and understandably—struggle with understanding not only how the Holocaust was able to happen, but also why and how genocide continues to occur in the world, and what has been, and can be, done to prevent such atrocities from occurring.

This multipart resource is intended to help teachers support students’ understanding of genocide in the context of their Holocaust education.

Why is it valuable to teach about genocide in the context of learning about the Holocaust?

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The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) provides a helpful rationale[1] that has informed the creation of this resource:

•   The Holocaust is often considered to have given rise to our conceptualization of the term "genocide," which was coined during the Second World War, in large measure as a response to the crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators. Therefore the Holocaust can be an effective starting point and the foundation for studying genocide.

•   Students can sharpen their understanding not only of similarities between events but also of key differences. In so doing, it may be an opportunity to better understand the particular historical significance of the Holocaust, and how study of the Holocaust may contribute to our understanding of other genocidal events.

•   Students can identify common patterns and processes in the development of genocidal situations. Through the understanding of a genocidal process and by identifying stages and warning signs in this process, a contribution can hopefully be made to prevent future genocides.

•   Students can appreciate the significance of the Holocaust in the development of international law, establishment of tribunals, and attempts by the international community to respond to genocide in the modern world.

•   Students can gain awareness of the potential danger for other genocides and crimes against humanity that existed prior to the Holocaust and continue to the present day. This may strengthen an awareness of their own roles and responsibilities in the global community.

[1] "Education Working Group Paper on the Holocaust and Other Genocides" (2010)

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The most important first step is to define genocide. This video provides an overview of the legal definition of genocide, some historical examples and testimonies, and reasons why the study of genocide is relevant to students today.


These materials are intended to give teachers a framework to teach about genocide in the context of their Holocaust education preparation and teaching. Resources include:
1 Glossary of Essential Terms: This resource includes definitions of essential terms to help frame an introduction to genocide, providing students with language to discuss complex issues associated with genocide. Many of these terms are also found in the Audio Glossary.
2 Examining the Stages of Genocide: The framework for this resource is Gregory Stanton’s “10 Stages of Genocide.” Each stage is defined, and accompanied by 2-3 testimony clips that illustrate each stage as it occurred in different genocides. Also included are “preventive measures” alongside the definition of each stage of genocide so students can see potential positive actions, as well as guiding questions to support learning and understanding.
3 Additional Resources: These resources are separated into three categories: resources for activism, resources for further study of genocide, and resources to learn more about specific cases of genocide. Note that what one defines as genocide can be highly controversial. The case studies included here are not meant to be a definitive list; rather, they are drawn from the testimonies in USC Shoah Foundation – the Institute for Visual History and Education’s archive.

Additional Considerations
• A central tenant of the Echoes & Reflections methodology is the use of primary source materials, which we have provided in the form of visual history testimonies. Learn more about the Echoes & Reflections pedagogy here.
• To help guide lesson planning, consult Using Visual History in the Classroom, which provides guidance on effective classroom use of testimony.
• Teachers seeking a more comprehensive study of genocide through testimony are encouraged to explore full testimonies and other teaching materials available in IWitness.
• One of the biggest challenges in teaching about genocide is the upsetting nature of the material. As this is meant to be an introductory resource, the testimony clips included here avoid some of the most graphic descriptions of genocide.

This resource includes definitions of essential terms to help frame an introduction to genocide, providing students with language to discuss complex issues associated with genocide. Many of these terms are also found in the Audio Glossary.

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Echoes & Reflections professional development programs provide educators with classroom-ready content, sound pedagogy, and instructional strategies to teach about the Holocaust in a comprehensive and meaningful way. Led by expert staff and facilitators, our programs include fundamental, thematic and focused areas of study applicable to a range of middle and high school subjects.
Echoes & Reflections is always happy to collaborate to customize our programs based on the needs of a particular district/institution. Contact Program Manager, Jennifer Goss, to learn more and schedule a program.

Foundations of Teaching the Holocaust: History and Pedagogy

Our core programs are designed to enhance teachers’ knowledge, capacity, and confidence to teach about the Holocaust. Educators are introduced to pedagogical principles and explore classroom lessons, visual history testimonies and other resources that examine aspects of the history and its continued relevance today.

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Programs can provide a broad historic overview grounded in effective instructional strategies, or focus on specific aspects of the history of the Holocaust, aligned with Echoes & Reflections Units:

  • Prewar Jewish Life
  • Antisemitism
  • Nazi Germany
  • The Ghettos
  • The “Final Solution”
  • Liberation
  • Jewish Resistance
  • Rescue & Righteous Among the Nations
  • Complicity & Responsibility
  • Justice, Life, & Memory After the Holocaust

The Holocaust & Contemporary Issues

Grounded in relevant aspects of Holocaust history, the following programs connect learning to contemporary issues and concerns of today, introducing Echoes & Reflections and supplementary classroom resources to examine these topics with students.

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Antisemitism: Understanding and Countering this Hatred Today
This program helps teachers educate students about the ways in which antisemitism manifests today that is both similar and uniquely different from earlier periods in history, including the Holocaust. Educators gain strategies to help students understand their responsibility to respond and counter contemporary antisemitism and all forms of hate.

Advancing Civic Participation through Holocaust Education
Studying the Holocaust imparts essential lessons of civic values, including justice, tolerance, and the importance of democratic liberties. This program examines how lessons of history can instill the importance of civic action in young people from all backgrounds. Using Echoes pedagogical approach, teachers explore how to teach the topic of Weimar Germany and the elements leading to the rise of the Nazi Party, to bridge history and memory into action, inspire students to value, and participate in the political processes of their country and community.

Analyzing Propaganda and Teaching Media Literacy: The Holocaust as a Case Study
Participants explore the events of the Holocaust through the lens of media, by examining propaganda deployed by the Nazis to discriminate against Jews and other minorities. Educators gain tools to facilitate classroom discussions on the role and impact of Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust and support students to analyze media in today’s world.

Choices Matter: Complicity and Action during the Holocaust
Educators gain tools and methodology to help students examine the consequences of inaction and the courage and difficult choices of those who rescued and resisted during the Holocaust. Educators also learn how to support students to implement an action-oriented project influenced by the lessons of this history.

Connecting the Past with Today: Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust
Focusing on the history of Jewish refugees during the 1930s and 1940s, educators learn to connect those lessons of intolerance, inaction, and indifference to how students understand today’s refugee crises.

It Starts with Words: Teaching the Holocaust to Combat Hate
The Holocaust was an unprecedented genocide that arose out of hatred and racism fueled by the power of words and propaganda. Participants examine the escalation of words to violence, which in turn, became genocide in order to consider where such a progression might have been interrupted. Educators gain tools to apply these lessons to modern day issues faced by students to ensure human dignity for all.

Literature & the Arts

An important element of the Echoes & Reflections approach is the inclusion of multidisciplinary methods to ensure students learn the human story behind the Holocaust. These programs, of particular interest to ELA and Humanities educators, highlight various sources – from literature to photographs – to engage learners.

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Bringing Maus to the Classroom
Art Spiegelman’s Maus broke new ground in its format of the graphic novel to tell the story of the Holocaust, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In this program, participants analyze Maus to gain insights into using this masterwork to teach the Holocaust and to connect students to survivors’ stories.

Creating Context for Teaching Night
Prepare students to read and comprehend Elie Wiesel’s Night within the larger historical framework of the Holocaust. Educators discover materials and instructional strategies that support effective teaching of the memoir and provide additional background to integrate into classroom instruction.

Dare to Dream: Teaching Compassion through Holocaust Literature Beyond Anne Frank
In this program, educators examine diaries and poetry from Jewish youth during the Holocaust to build a connection to the ways in which young people still dared to dream in the face of loss, rupture, and fear. Participants consider how to use these literary selections to help to create empathy and provoke compassion with their students.

Teaching the Holocaust Using the Humanities: Integrating Photographs, Literature, Art, and Poetry to tell the Human Story
Educators learn strategies to integrate multiple primary sources into Holocaust instruction with a focus on the human experience. Programs can examine a range of sources or can be narrowed to focus on a specific type of source, such as photography, art or poetry, including specific programs on The Auschwitz Album, Photography as Resistance, etc.

The Holocaust & Gender

The Nazis targeted all Jews for persecution and ultimately death. However, the Nazi regime subjected women to violence that was unique to the gender of the victims, and examining the Holocaust through this lens creates a more nuanced understanding and insight into the persecution of women, gender dynamics, and the use of gender as a weapon.

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Programs below also offer opportunities to illustrate how the unique strengths and resilience of women allowed them to navigate some of the most difficult times in history.

Gender & Genocide
Gender and genocide is an area of study critical to a more nuanced understanding of the different motivations and genocidal tools of perpetrators and the wide-ranging experiences of victims. In this program, participants examine gender dynamics, stereotypes, and roles that influenced how perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and rescuers acted and were treated by others. Specific issues related to women, LGBT victims, and gender-based violence are also addressed.

Women in the Holocaust
During the escalation of violence and worsening conditions in ghettos and camps during the Holocaust, the majority of women and mothers focused on daily survival. Drawing upon classroom-ready content found in Echoes & Reflections and other sources, this program examines the life-and-death dilemmas that women and mothers faced, and their attempts to resist dehumanization and death. Program can be tailored to focus on women who were awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations.”

Women in Resistance: Fierce Females
During the Holocaust, women were often at the heart of resistance, whether spiritual, cultural or armed. This program, highlighting Echoes & Reflections resources, focuses on the role of the female “couriers”and the part they played in armed resistance. This story, often overshadowed by stories of armed resistance in the ghettos of Europe, offers a powerful example of incredible bravery exhibited by a group of Jewish girls and women.



Echoes & Reflections is proud to partner with USC Shoah Foundation, Hold On To Your Music Foundation, and Discovery Education to bring the Willesden READS Program to students and teachers in select cities across the United States.

Discover teaching resources to support the Willesden READS and more at The Willesden Project.


The Children of Willesden Lane–editions now available for readers across grade levels-is the best-selling story about the power of music and how one teenage refugee, Lisa Jura, Mona’s mother, held onto her dreams, survived the Holocaust and inspired a generation of her contemporaries. Today's worldwide humanitarian crises and the importance of standing up against bigotry and hatred are reflected in the continued, growing relevance of this story.


The centerpiece event of the Willesden READS Program is a 50-minute one of a kind livestreamed event including a theatrical performance and concert based on the The Children of Willesden Lane story. More than one million students across the world have experienced the Willesden READS program. During this special remote event, students will have opportunities to interact with the book's author, performer and virtuoso concert pianist Mona Golabek, who offers uplifting messages of resilience and hope for students at a time when they most need it.

In advance of the livestream event, educators are invited to participate in professional development, provided by Echoes & Reflections, to deepen understanding of the historical context of The Children of Willesden Lane books and to learn to incorporate companion resources found in IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation's educational website, into their teaching.

Watch this brief video to learn more about the Willesden READS Program.


Currently in the United States, 12 states mandate Holocaust education, 5 have permissive statutes (legislation that is not a requirement), 14 support a Holocaust education commission or taskforce, 4 have legislation pending, and 22 have no legislation regarding Holocaust education (note: some states may fall into multiple categories).

Tap the button below to review state legislation. Visit this page on desktop to explore an interactive map.

For questions, and for more information on our offerings and/or on Holocaust education in your state, please contact us at

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