Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Teaching the Holocaust
The Holocaust is a watershed event in history — a frightening reminder of the consequences of prejudice and intolerance. It raises questions of fairness, justice, individual identity, peer pressure, conformity, and obedience. For these reasons, the topic is both timely and teachable.
Stories for your classroom
The Wisconsin Holocaust survivors' oral histories contain many powerful concepts to teach about the Holocaust. You may find it easiest to start with excerpts from our Oral Histories Wisconsin Holocaust Survivors collection and integrate them with the activity ideas listed below.
- Anti-Semitism - Fred Platner
A teenager's Gentile friends turn against him
- Ghettos - Magda Herzberger
Living conditions in the ghetto in Cluj, Romania
- Hiding - Herb DeLevie
Living under a rule of silence while hiding in Holland
- Escapes - Fred Platner
Forced laborers break away from a Polish labor camp
- Resistance - Harry Gordon
Why resistance was futile in the camps
- Liberation - Henry Golde
Witnessing pandemonium at the Theresienstadt liberation
- Postwar Life & Immigration - Cyla Stundel
A survivor's kindergartener comes home in tears
- Anti-Semitism - Manfred Swarsensky
A rabbi recalls Kristallnacht in Berlin
- Escapes - Pela Alpert
A young woman escapes from the Warsaw Ghetto
- Hiding - Flora Bader
A young Dutch woman evades capture by the Gestapo
- Concentration Camps - Magda Herzberger
A Romanian teenager arrives at Auschwitz
- Resistance - Manfred Swarsensky
Suffering as a form of resistance
- Liberation - Magda Herzberger
Rescued from death's door at Bergen-Belsen
- Postwar Life & Immigration - Rosa Katz
Polish survivor encounters prejudice renting a house
Integrate these activities with topics from the Wisconsin Holocaust survivor excerpts.
- Discussion groups
Because the stories are emotionally moving, sharing in groups will help students process their feelings as well as provoke discussion. Have small groups answer specific questions and adopt positions. Use a pyramid: discuss in pairs, then small groups, then larger groups.
- Debate an issue
Ask students to take sides on an issue. Choose groups of 2 or 3 to brainstorm, then have them present their positions in front of the class.
- Before and after self-assessment
At the start of a class, have students write what they think about a topic. At the end of the class, have them explain how their thinking changed.
- Role playing and dramatization
Each student assumes the persona of a survivor. They tell a story from the survivor's point-of-view and answer questions about what they would do in such a situation, and why.
- Oral reports
Have individuals or groups write or report to be presented orally on a survivor's story in response to questions such as these:
- explain how...
- explain why...
- how are... and... similar?
- how does... connect with what we have already learned from... ?
- restate in your own words...
- what do you think causes... Why?
- what is another example of... ?
- what is another way to look at... ?
- what are some differences between... and... ?
- why do you think that... ?
- why is... important?