Diversity Education

Holocaust / Shoah HolocaustEducation

For comments, suggestions, or corrections to the material below, contact Tony Tavares.

Introduction

Holocaust IntroductionOur society is composed of people from diverse linguistic and cultural origins. It is important that all Manitobans have a good understanding and appreciation of the richness of our human diversity, our roots, and our people’s stories, in order to develop a sense of community and intercultural understanding. This should include an awareness of how issues of contemporary racism and inequality are rooted in our history.

Within this context, it is important that all students know and understand some of the more important aspects of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is of enduring significance to Canadians and the world as a whole because there are important lessons to be learned from it about human rights and responsibilities, the power of hatred and discrimination, and the challenge of democracy in multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. The severity and extent of the persecution experienced by Jews and other targeted groups, leading up to and during World War II, has no parallel in history. It is important that we remember the Holocaust, and the international complacency and social and political conditions that allowed it to occur, so that we may avoid similar events today and in the future.

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The Meaning of the "Holocaust"

The term “Holocaust” is derived from the Greek term for a burnt offering. Because of this problematic meaning, the Hebrew word Shoah, meaning “widespread disaster” or “calamityis often used instead. In contemporary literature and history, the word Holocaust is used to refer to the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of roughly six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators, which began in 1933 when Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, but of all Jews everywhere. In the words of eminent scholar, Steven Katz: “Nazism was an organized human and societal event that had as an integral part of its purposive behaviour the total eradication of world Jewry.” This tragic event is estimated to have reduced the world’s total Jewish population by over one third. While Jews were a primary target during the Holocaust, the Roma people (“Gypsies”), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, so-called “asocials,” people with disabilities, and political enemies were also targeted by the Nazis, and were victims of persecution and violence. (See a Mosaic of Victims section),

Holocaust MeaningThere is evidence that the Nazis picked out and specifically targeted the Jews, from the very beginning of the rise of the Nazi party in 1919 to the very end of the party with Hitler’s Testament of April 29, 1945. In 1919, Hitler had written a letter to a Herr Gemlich, in which he called for the removal of the Jews if he ever took power. The Holocaust, or the “Final Solution,” followed a period of increased hostility and persecution exacted by the military and government officials, beginning in 1933 when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. The Holocaust, from its conception to its implementation, was rooted in a long history of in Germany and throughout Europe, and had a distinctly Jewish aspect to it. Arguably, without this Jewish aspect, there would have been no Holocaust.

The Goals of Holocaust Education

As the Holocaust is one of the most extensively documented historical events, it is one of the most effective subjects for an educational and critical examination of basic moral and social issues. A structured and critical inquiry into the Holocaust will provide many insights into contemporary issues of human rights and democracy in ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse societies.

Canada, like many of its allies during the Holocaust, was complacent and demonstrated little compassion or concern for the victims of Nazism. Therefore, the study of the Holocaust and Canada’s struggle with its own problems and challenges related to antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia will shed light on the challenges facing our society, then and today. As Canadians, work to build a better society, understanding, knowing, and learning from the Holocaust is vitally important. It teaches us about the importance of resistance, solidarity, resiliency, and survival, even in the face of unimaginable horrors.

Through a study of the Holocaust, students can come to realize that

  • democratic institutions, values, and human rights are not a given, nor are they automatically sustained; rather, they need to be appreciated, nurtured, and protected
  • silence and indifference to the suffering or persecution of others, or to the infringement of civil and human rights in any society, can, regardless of intention, perpetuate the problems.
  • the Holocaust was not an accident in history; it was rooted in a history of intolerance, anti-Jewish religious teaching, and prejudice in European societies and individuals. Organizations and governments made choices, which not only legalized discrimination, but which allowed prejudice, hatred, and, ultimately, mass murder to occur.

Connections to the Manitoba Social Studies Curriculum

The Manitoba social studies curriculum supports the continued development of the multicultural, multiracial, and pluralist democracy that is Canada. The events that take place in our classrooms shape, and are shaped by, larger social currents that define who we are and where we are headed as a society. To be successful, schools in general, and social studies classrooms in particular, must be guided by democratic social goals and values that affirm our human diversity, and that demonstrate a quest for greater equity in our institutions and in society as a whole.

As part of Manitoba’s new Kindergarten to Grade 8 social studies curriculum, Middle Years students have the opportunity to focus on the history of Canada (Grades 5 and 6), and to explore issues related to the Holocaust (Grade 6).

Senior Years students have opportunities to focus on the Holocaust in the current Grade 11 Canadian History course. (The new Grade 11 curriculum is under development, and is likely to have similar opportunities for study.)

Remembering the Holocaust

There are several dates throughout the year that are dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and may be incorporated into school and classroom calendars and learning events. These include:

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD) designates January 27 of each year. IHRD coincides with the date that the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated in 1945.In Winnipeg and throughout the world organizations take time to organize events related to remembering the Holocaust. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honour the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides. The United Nations decides on a theme each year, which educators could incorporate into their learning events. Visit The Holocaust and the United Nations website for links to resources. The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre organizes programmes in Winnipeg each year to mark IHRD. See the FFHEC website for annual updates.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Manitoba and several other provinces designate the 27 of Nisan in the Hebrew Calendar, which is Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Israel and many other Jewish communities, as their Holocaust Memorial Day. Holocaust Memorial Day falls in the April/May period on the Western Calendar.

Shoah Remembrance Week

The Jewish communities in Winnipeg and throughout the province and country include many individuals and families who are survivors of the Holocaust or who are related to survivors, and many more individuals who lost family members and loved ones during the Holocaust. While the Jewish community in Manitoba is diverse and composed of families and individuals who immigrated to Canada from many different countries, all members of the community have been affected by the Holocaust.

Over a period of decades, Jewish communities, Holocaust educators, and researchers in Winnipeg and other centres spoke with each about their despair born of the Holocaust and Nazi genocides, and their hope that there was something of value to be learned from the Holocaust and applied in present-day societies. This led to the development of a variety of initiatives to record the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and the development of other educational initiatives. One of these, Shoah Remembrance Week, is an annual educational outreach initiative intended to remember the Holocaust, not only as historical fact and as a memorial to its millions of victims, but also as a warning. This initiative provides programs and resources that bear witness to Holocaust events, explore issues arising from the attempted extermination of Jews and other targeted groups, and apply lessons learned from the Holocaust to contemporary issues.

The annual Shoah Remembrance Week activities and related programs in Winnipeg, which are organized by a variety of organizations, may be found on the website of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Most of these activities are open and indeed welcome the public and are free of charge. The Megillat Hashoah (Holocaust Scroll) service, which takes place each year at Congregation Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, is an interfaith event, which especially reaches out to members of all faiths and is suitable for Middle School and High School students and adults. It takes place each year on the Sunday of Shoah Remembrance Week.

Other Opportunities for Remembrance

Kristallnacht programming (Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938. This marks the point when the persecution of Jews in Germany was accelerated. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels initiated this free-for-all against the Jews, which resulted in more than 1400 synagogues being set on fire, more than 7,000 Jewish businesses and homes being looted, approximately 100 Jews being killed, and as many as 30,000 Jews being arrested and sent to concentration camps.) The name “Kristallnacht” was actually coined by German propagandists and the German press. The shards of broken glass that lay everywhere to them represented something beautiful – crystal – from which they wanted Aryan (i.e. non-Jewish) Germans to draw inspiration. However, for the Jews of Europe, this massive pogrom marked the first instance in which the Nazi regime physically assaulted, arrested, and incarcerated Jews on a massive scale simply based on their ethnicity. In the weeks that followed, the most basic of human rights were denied to German Jews, and in fact, Jews ended up being blamed for the massive pogrom. The Nazis imposed a fine totaling the equivalent of 400 million U.S. dollars on Germany’s Jewish community.

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg traditionally holds community-wide programming to mark this event. Other organizations sometimes also hold events.

The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre is located at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. The HEC is both a small museum and educational centre. Visitors enter the museum by walking through a replica of the boxcar doors, which sealed the fate of so many of those transported to the death camps during the Holocaust. The HEC’s exhibits consist of artefacts donated by Manitoba Holocaust survivors and their families. Text panels further outline the history of the Holocaust.

A visit to the museum invites reflection, discussion and further research into a range of issues. Designed to enrich the curriculum, a visit to the HEC offers students opportunities and materials for reflection, discussion and further research into a range of issues. The intention is to raise awareness and understanding of the history of the Holocaust as a universal human rights issue. We address the fact that society continues to witness genocide due to continuing racism and hatred and that we must all be vigilant in opposing racism, antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.

The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre (HEC) was founded by local survivors who were dedicated to building a museum where various groups, especially students, could come and benefit from presentations by Holocaust survivors and educators and look at their precious artefacts which illustrate even further the families and the world that these brave men and women have lost.

The mandate of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre is to raise awareness and understanding of the history of the Shoah through education. We address the fact that society continues to witness genocide due to continuing racism and hatred and that we must all be vigilant in opposing racism, antisemitism and other forms of bigotry. The HEC provides access to survivors both on its premises and in schools (for those schools who find it too difficult to visit the HEC for a presentation). It also organizes exhibits and lectures (such as on IHRD) on the theme of the Holocaust.

The major educational program each year is the Annual Holocaust and Human Rights Symposium, held each year in March at the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre. A keynote speaker presents to high school students from all over the province. In the afternoon, a survivor of a more current genocide or conflict speaks in order to connect the past with the present. Each year, up to 2000 students from across Manitoba attend the symposium. Visit the HEC website for further information.

As well, the Centre has developed resources related to the Holocaust. For example, Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors, edited by Belle Jarniewski, chair of the Freeman Family Holocaust Education Centre, documents the experiences of 73 local Holocaust survivors before, during, and after the Holocaust. The Minister of Education has made one copy of the book available to every Manitoba high school library.

Lionel B. Steiman, Senior Scholar, Department of History at the University of Manitoba reviewed the book: “Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors accomplishes the near impossible. It rescues from oblivion the stories of people who themselves were rescued from the oblivion of the Holocaust in which hundreds of thousands families like their own were exterminated. The moving photos and documents that richly enhance this beautifully produced book take us into a world that is lost but still intimate, tangible yet sadly remote. The stories of these Holocaust survivors are told in their own words, carefully transcribed from questionnaires and interviews. Their survival, recovery and rebuilding of their lives in Canada is a significant chapter in Canadian history, superbly chronicled in Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors.”

Many other resources for educators can also be found on the website, which is updated on a regular basis. Resources on teaching about the Roma Genocide can also be found there.

The HEC also administers an annual essay competition offering a monetary prize, on the subject of the Holocaust and/or human rights for students in grades 9-12. The rules can be found Mina Rosner Essay Contest Rules.

To learn more about the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre and the resources available, events sponsored and other information visit the website.

To book a presentation or for further information on the programs, please contact the Jewish Heritage Centre office at 204-477-7460 or by Email: jewishheritage@jhcwc.org

A Mosaic of Victims

Although there is no doubt that the primary targets of Nazis their collaborators were primarily Jews, they also persecuted a mosaic of groups who the Nazis deemed would not fit, contribute to, or weaken the building of their vision of a  German Aryan master race. Groups were targeted because of various ‘reasons’, including their race/culture, political ideology, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or disabilities.

  • “Racial” groups targeted for persecution in Nazi Germany, German controlled parts of Europe, and in Africa included the Roma and Sinti, (Gypsies), Poles, Slavs, ‘Asiatic’ peoples of the Soviet Union, and Blacks/Africans. The Nazis racially profiled the Roma as being "work-shy" and "asocial" and possessing an inherent inclination to engage in petty crime. The Nazis viewed Poles, Slavs, and the ‘Asiatic’ peoples of the Soviet Union as being inferior races and initially targeted them for subjugation and forced labor, and later annihilation.

    The fate of Black/African peoples from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and some other groups.

    Prior to Nazi rule and extending into the Nazi era, Blacks/Africans living in Germany faced significant discrimination. This included laws requiring the separation of whites and blacks and prohibiting mixed marriages in German African colonies. African German mixed race children were marginalized in German society. They were not allowed to attend university and racial discrimination prohibited them limited their employment, including exclusion from the military. Under Nazi rule they became a target of racial and population policies. By 1937, the Nazis had secretly rounded up most and had them forcibly sterilized. Others were subjected to medical experiments and many mysteriously “disappeared.”

    Some American and Europeans of African/Black origins were caught in German-occupied Europe during World War II, also became victims of the Nazi regime and interned in the Nazi concentration camp system.

  • ‘Asocials’ or those deemed repeat criminal offenders were often targets of the Nazi and arrested and sent to concentration camps
  • Nazis believed in eugenics.  That institutionalized peoples with “congenital’ disabilities and those suffering from psychiatric conditions to be a threat to the creation of their master race. They were often backed by sympathetic supporters in the medical, healthcare, and social service communities and institutions in the Euthanization policies and plans of Nazi Germany. Children and adults with physical, psychiatric, and cognitive disabilities were murdered in institutions, special killing centers, or concentration camps.
  • Some of the earliest victims of discrimination and persecution in Nazi Germany were political opponents, especially communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, and trade union leaders. They Nazis also targeted authors and artists whose works they deemed to be subversive or who were of Jewish origins.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious groups who refused to swear an oath to the regime or perform military service were also persecuted.
  • Gay men were also targets of Nazi persecution, as homosexuality was believed to be incompatible with Nazism. Thousands were arrested and between 5000 and 15000 were sent to concentration camps. It is unknown how many perished. Lesbians though persecuted were not treated as harshly as Gay men were. Although they were often labelled "asocial", they were rarely imprisoned, and were not sent to concentration camps due to their sexual orientation.

Totalitarianism and the Holocaust

To a large degree, the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany was the direct result of the fascist and totalitarian nature of the government of Nazi Germany, although there was a long history of European discrimination and persecution of Jews and other groups, as well as other social and historical religious factors. Totalitarian regimes are characterized by their complete political, social, and cultural control over their citizens, and are usually headed by a charismatic leader. Fascism is a form of right-wing totalitarianism, which emphasizes the subordination of the individual to advance the interests of the state. Nazi fascist ideology included:

  • a racial theory which marginalized and devalued “non-Aryans’ , such as Jews, Roma and other groups
  • a form of extreme nationalism which called for the unification of all German-speaking peoples
  • the use of private paramilitary organizations to eliminate dissent and terrorize any opposition
  • the centralization of decision-making by single leader and a demand of absolute loyalty to that leader

In a totalitarian state, there is little if any room for protest. All opponents are dealt with viciously and ruthlessly. Totalitarianism in Nazi Germany therefore enabled the Holocaust and the persecution of a mosaic of victims. However, a long tradition of religious antisemitism and racial antisemitism (see under antisemitism) meant that in most cases, local populations in both Axis and occupied countries actively participated or acted as bystanders in the persecution, deportation, and even murder of the Jews.

The Holocaust as a Foundation for Studying Historical and Contemporary Genocides

Some educators and students may ask why teach and learn about the Holocaust when there have been many other instances of mass persecution and atrocities targeting other groups throughout history? They may also ask why teach and learn about the Holocaust when other there are many contemporary instances of  ‘ethnic cleansing’ and crimes against humanity and of which there are many survivors in our schools and communities? These valid questions merit a discussion and response.

First, learning about contemporary and historical incidences and examples of genocide is important and essential for prevention of future mass killings and atrocities. However, learning about other genocides and crimes against humanity does not preclude teaching the Holocaust or reduce the relevance and importance of students learning about the Holocaust. Because of the unprecedented and unique nature of the Holocaust, it provides a foundation for the studying of other genocides and the importance of international human rights standards and protections.  In a 2010 Working Group Paper on the Holocaust and Other Genocides, the group states:

A clear and well-informed understanding of the Holocaust, the paradigmatic genocide, may help educators and students understand other genocides, mass atrocities, and human rights violations. Teaching about mass suffering only began after the Second World War, or, to be specific, after the Holocaust, the attempt by the Nazis and their collaborators to destroy European Jewry. In part due to our investigation of the Holocaust, a whole field of genocide studies has developed and, in consequence, the crimes against the Armenians have been restored to history and scholars are studying numerous other instances of inhumanity, from the Herero massacres to the Stalinist murders and expulsion, to more recent horrors in Central Africa, the Sudan and Cambodia.

From The Task Force in International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, 2010 Education Working Group Paper on the Holocaust and Other Genocides

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization UNESCO that was created in the aftermath of World War makes a similar point.

“Understanding how and why the Holocaust occurred can inform broader understandings of mass violence globally, as well as highlight the value of promoting human rights, ethics, and civic engagement that bolsters human solidarity at the local, national, and global levels. Examination of the systematic persecution and murder of Europe’s Jews raises questions about human behaviour and our capacity to succumb to scapegoating or simple answers to complex problems in the face of vexing societal challenges. The Holocaust illustrates the dangers of unchecked prejudice, discrimination, antisemitism and dehumanization. It also reveals the full range of human responses - thereby raising important considerations about societal and individual motivations and pressures that lead people to act as they do - or to not act at all.”

Education about the Holocaust and Genocide.” UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1 Dec. 2017

Many of the Holocaust education sites listed in this document provide resources or information on teaching about genocide in general and specific example of more recent examples of genocide.

However, a few articles and resources may be helpful in responding to questions related to “Why Teach the Holocaust”. These include:

For further information and resources related to education and the prevention of genocide, see Education and the Prevention of Genocide.

Antisemitism 2.0, Holocaust Denial, and the Web

Over the past several decades, an organized effort to deny or minimize the established history of Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity and the Shoah has emerged. In Canada, internationally this movement has drawn attention in recent years because of the proliferation of “revisionist” conferences and websites which purport to correct myths or challenge the veracity and accuracy of historical data and research, the publication of books and magazines, and the publication of editorial-style advertisements in college/university campus newspapers. Often, the conferences, websites, and ads claim to call for “open debate on the Holocaust.” While they acknowledge the fact of Nazi antisemitism, they question whether this hatred resulted in the atrocities and genocide documented by survivors and historians.

There is also evidence that antisemitism and hatred are on the rise in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and other places in the world. Unfortunately, antisemitism and hatred of Jews is not a thing of the distant past or limited to Nazi Germany. Antisemitism takes different forms; they can be bomb threats against Jewish Community Centres, schools, or vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. They can also take the form of Holocaust denial, antisemitic rock groups, websites, and cartoons.

There are various theories or explanations as to the continuity of antisemitism, especially in the post-Holocaust, post-Declaration of Universal Human Rights era.

For some it is a continuation of the long history of antisemitism in Europe and throughout the world that has deep roots, which have never died and have recently shown new vigor. Anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and pro-Christian movements in Europe have raised hostility towards non-Christian groups such a Muslims, Jews, and Hindus in Europe and elsewhere.

There is also evidence of new form of antisemitism that has developed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that was stimulated by several influences including extremist political ideologies and radical. Such antisemitism tends to manifest itself as opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel. Under the guise of valid criticism of Israel by individuals, the media, and world bodies often there is a demonization of Jews and Israel. This trend together with an apparent international resurgence of attacks on Jews, Jewish symbols, and an increased acceptance of antisemitic beliefs and statements in public discourse, points to an evolution in the nature of antisemitic beliefs.

However, not all criticism of Israel and its policies are rooted in antisemitism. It is important that educators do not conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and events needs to be recognized and respected and is part of legitimate political debate

Yair Rosenberg, in a piece for the Washington Post, Five Myths about Anti-Semitism, attempts to balance these two perspectives on Israel and antisemitism. He points out that criticism of Israeli policies and actions should not be construed as being generally antisemitic. For him and many other Jews, legitimate criticism of Israel’s actions concerning the Palestinians or other issues cannot all simply be labeled antisemitic. Within Israel and with Jews across the globe, there are many different perspectives and positions on different issues with respect to the modern State of Israel. For example, opposition to Jewish settlements is a debatable political position, not antisemitic slur. He argues that Israel just like any other democracy should be held accountable for its actions like any other nation.

On the other hand, he does acknowledge that criticism of Israel can mask hatred or prejudice toward Jews. He points out examples where critics of Israel were Holocaust deniers or those who accuse Israel of committing “Palestinian genocide,” in spite of the fact that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reported a 400% population increase since Israel’s founding. He argues that such approaches share a common trait, which is that they treat Israel in much the same way anti-Semites have historically unfairly treated and demonized Jews.
There other perspectives and theories about the new forms of antisemitism.

The Holocaust, Israel and the Middle East Conflict

As the creation of the modern state of Israel is in part a direct result of the Second World War and the Shoah, it may be expected that some students will raise the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Educators need to be prepared to respond appropriately to such situations.

There is no doubt that the creation of the State of Israel and the wars that followed have affected and influenced contemporary understandings about Jews and the World. It is also true that the Arab-Israeli wars and continued conflicts in the Middle East and in many Muslim dominated countries has created a complex situation.

As well, there is widespread belief of media bias among all sides of the issues. Pro-Palestinians often see Western mainstream media to be biased and pro-Israel and Pro-Israeli see Arab media to be biased and pro-Palestinian. Therefore, it is important to critically read and digest media reports and materials.

It is critically, important to study and understand the issues related to Israel, the Middle East conflicts and Palestinians from a well-informed and balanced perspective. Many of educators and students may have a limited knowledge of the history and facts related to these themes.  It is important to know the facts about the creation of Israel and the impact on Palestinians and the conflict that grew out of this development.

As well, there is a tendency to over simplify and stereotype the perspectives and positions of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs Israelis, and Palestinians. It is important to recognize the diversity of opinions and positions that exist within each of these groups. For example, Jews for Justice for Palestine advocates for a two-state solution to the conflict. As well, there are two ultra-Orthodox groups Neturei Karta and Satmar Hasidism for which Zionism and the estab­lishment of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act.

On the Muslim side, some Muslim clerics, such as Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, and Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of Israel, are in accordance with teachings of Islam. There are a few notable Muslims who publicly support Zionism include former radical Islamist Ed Husain, Dr. Tawfik Hamid, Tashbih Sayyed, a Pakistani-American scholar, journalist, and author, and the Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury.

Lastly, it is important to not take a “single story’ approach to the study of the issues. It is important that multiple perspectives be heard and considered.

Lastly, it is important to not take a “single story’ approach to the study of the issues. It is important that multiple perspectives be heard and considered.

Supporting Survivors of Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Teaching about Holocaust or other examples of genocide and mass atrocities can be a very demanding, challenging, and emotional experience for teachers, students, and their families. It is more common than one may expect, that teachers and students and their respective families to be survivors or related to survivors of genocide or of war and social upheaval. In many classrooms today we can expect that some children have themselves and/or their families been refugees and have fled war, oppression, and persecution. Therefore, the study of the Holocaust or the recent atrocities such as Darfur and Rwanda can ‘awaken’ memories of past experiences for both for those who have a direct connection to survivors of long ago atrocities and or those more recent survivors of war and contemporary examples of genocide, ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and other mass atrocities.

Therefore, it may be useful for teacher to draw on resources and guides related to working with war-affected children and survivors, as well as resources related to teaching about genocide that may assist them in preparing for and teaching the Holodomor. The list that follows provides some useful websites for these purposes:

  • Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) is a non-profit, registered charitable organization, founded by several Toronto doctors, lawyers and social service professionals, many of whom were associated with Amnesty International. The Centre offers a variety of online, print and media resources related to supporting victims of war and torture.
  • Save the Children, United Kingdom has some excellent resources related to issues faced by children, including war, refugee experiences, and rights.
  • The HealTorture.org website is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and is a project of The Center for Victims of Torture. It offers a number of resources specifically for those working with youth.

Holocaust Education Resources

There are many websites with information on the Holocaust and Holocaust awareness resources. The following is a sample of some of the sites available that may be of interest to teachers and students. The sites are organized into four categories: Historical Resources, Canadian Sites, Teacher and Student Resources, International and Other Relevant Organizations, and A Selected bibliography of Print Resources.

Historical Resources

Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
Yad Vashem is the Jewish people’s memorial to the murdered Six Million, and symbolizes the ongoing confrontation with the rupture engendered by the Holocaust. Containing the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is a leader in Shoah education, commemoration, research, and documentation. The Yad Vashem website offers many resources of interest to teachers and students. Information on an annual teacher summer institute in Holocaust education is available on the site.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this The United States of America’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. This is a major site for educators and research on the Holocaust. The museum has a wealth of information for research and offers complete lessons plans on "How to teach the Holocaust".

USC Shoah Foundation: The Institute for Visual History and Education
The University of Southern California Shoah Foundation created the Institute for Visual History and Education to combat prejudice, intolerance, and hatred through the educational use of the Institute’s visual History Archive. The archive holds over 55,000 video testimonies. The majority of the video testimonies collected are on the Holocaust, and includes the experiences of Jewish Survivors, non-Jewish survivors, and rescuers and aid providers, however, the Visual History Archive has expanded and now includes testimonies from other genocides including the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the Armenian and the Guatemalan Genocide.  The institute plans to integrate additional testimonies from other genocides. The Institute has developed innovative education programs and learning tools intended for middle and high school students and teacher training programs that focus on the use of testimony in diverse educational settings. For information on education programs such as Witness. The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada offers full access to the Visual History Archive in its office at the Asper Campus, although many of the testimonies are accessible from this link.

The History of Antisemitism Resources

The Holocaust has its origins in the long history of antisemitism in Europe. It is important to understand that antisemitism is a complex issue that did not emerge with the Nazis. An understanding of how antisemitism contributed to the conditions that allowed the Holocaust to occur, and for so many people to “close their eyes” to the atrocities committed, may be gained by exploring antisemitism historically and in contemporary settings. Many websites have sections that deal with antisemitism.

Antisemitism
David Dickerson maintains a web education site with information and links to various aspects of Jewish history and culture, including a section on the historical and contemporary manifestations of Antisemitism.

Centre for German-Jewish Studies
The University of Sussex provides excerpts from religious and historical texts which illuminate antisemitism in Europe and provide a historical context for the Holocaust.

Australian Memories of the Holocaust
This is an excellent educational website on the Holocaust with resources on the history of antisemitism in general, and Nazi Antisemitism specifically.

Holocaust Project
Educators may find this a useful site for research, and to access primary or historical documents. The goal of the site is to provide a detailed chronology and deeper understanding of how the Holocaust came about—and why. The site provides a large body of hard-to-find information in one convenient database, including texts, maps, photos, videos, audio clips, interviews, eyewitness testimonies, and rare German documents, many of them translated into English for the first time.

Holocaust Memorial Center
This is the website of the first American museum dedicated to remembering and preserving the history of the Holocaust. A virtual tour of the museum and its exhibits is available, as well as a variety of resources on Holocaust education.

Canadian Sites

Open Hearts: Closed Doors
This is a section of the Virtual Museum of Canada, which is dedicated to highlighting a collection of high quality, online cultural content, including virtual exhibits and an image gallery. It features resources related to an exhibit on young Jewish orphans who emigrated from Europe after the end of the war as part of the War Orphans initiative. It offers learning resources including a teacher’s guide, orphan’s stories, an artifacts collection, and a glossary.

The Hope Site: The Web’s Centre for Holocaust Education
This site is sponsored and developed by the Victoria Holocaust and Remembrance and Education Society. It features teaching materials, interactive student resources, historical documents and pictures, stories of individuals, anti-racism resources, and a bibliography of videos on hate.

Filmography: An Annotated Filmography of Canadian Produced Films and Videos on the Holocaust
This “filmography” was developed by Gary Evans, historian and author, who teaches in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa. He wrote two groundbreaking books on Canadian film and culture, and was a contributing historian to, and editor of, the renowned CD-ROM and website, “A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust.”

Learning from the Past: Teaching for the Future
This program in Holocaust and anti-racism education is an initiative of The Centre for Jewish Studies and The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University in Toronto. It brings together Canadian university students and students from Germany and Poland to explore how best to counter racism—including antisemitism—through teaching about the Holocaust. It also involves experts and members of the broader public in all three countries. It features an excellent array of resources on Holocaust education.

A Brief History of Antisemitism in Canada Adobe PDF
Excellent unit prepared by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum, which teaches about the history of antisemitism in Canada and about the history of antisemitism from its earliest roots in Antiquity. With good visuals.

The Nizkor Project
The Nizkor Project grew out of the desire to counter Holocaust denial and hate activity on the web. The site endeavours to provide teachers with teaching resources to bolster democratic, multicultural, and multiracial education. It features a variety of Holocaust research guides and links to resources related to the Holocaust and Nazism.

The Fate of European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust
This site provides a wealth of information about the genocide committed by the Nazis against Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust as well as background information. It offers discussion questions.

Teacher and Student Resources

Azriel Foundation Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program
Since 2005 the not-for-profit Azrieli Foundation has been collecting and publishing the written first-person memoirs of Holocaust survivors who made their way to Canada. With a focus on education about tolerance and diversity, the program distributes print editions of the memoirs free of charge to libraries, schools and Holocaust-education programs across Canada. These personal stories bring history to life — they put a face on what was lost and allow readers to grasp the enormity of what happened — one story at a time. They offer us a way to teach and study history that complements text books by allowing us to identify with the authors — not only with their inspiring accounts of survival but also with their experience of being immigrants in a new country. The 20 memoirs in English and 15 in French in the Azrieli Series have undergone extensive fact checking with regard to historical accuracy. In addition to original maps, photographs, a glossary and an index, each book includes an introduction that gives broader historical context to the author's Holocaust experience.

The Azrieli Series of Short Films are intimate personal profiles of our authors. In these films, the authors reflect on their histories from childhood through to their experiences during the war to their present lives in Canada. A portion of each film includes the author reading from their published memoir, combined with animation, to bring the account to life. This multimedia approach to the memoirs through film captures our living authors for posterity, and enables them to reach more people for generations to come.

Because they realize that it is not always possible to bring a survivor out to meet and speak to all the schools across Canada, they have turned to social media to expand our reach. They would be happy to arrange a Skype session to personally introduce your students to one of our authors.
Visit the website for a complete list of books and films. For a resource package or more information, contact them by email or call 416-322-5928.

A People’s History of Holocaust and Genocide
This website is dedicated to helping educators and students access the ‘best’ resources for teaching and learning about the Shoah (Holocaust). The organization was founded April 25, 1995 and originally called the “Cybrary of the Holocaust". Supporters include a number of Television channels, New York Times, and a number of other media and technology related companies. An interesting feature of the site is the Imagine Art Gallery-Holocaust Student Projects, Survivors, and Artists. , which explores the holocaust through art and poetry.

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
This teacher resource was produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, and University of South Florida. The content is presented from three perspectives: Timeline, People, and The Arts. The authors caution that Holocaust study is a very sensitive subject, and the appropriateness of material is dependent upon individuals. They offer guidelines for selecting resources for classroom use.

Echoes and Reflections: Teaching the Holocaust, Inspiring the Classroom
Echoes & Reflections is a print and web-based resource that provides:

  • in-person, online classes, and webinars professional development opportunities for educators
  • educator and student resources for teaching about the Holocaust for middle and senior years including:
    • Lesson Plans
    • Audio Glossary
    • Timeline Charts
    • Responses to students toughest questions
    • A video toolbox.

The intent is to provide educators with research-based strategies for teaching about the Shoah and the Holocaust as well as provide an array of print and digital resources to use in the classroom. The sponsors are the Anti-defamation League, the USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem.

Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves is an international education organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. By studying the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and other historical examples of violence and genocide, Facing History helps young people make connections to the moral choices they face today. In 2008, Facing History in partnership with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) created a grade 11 history course entitled Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. This course has subsequently been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education and can be offered by any school board in the province. Currently, the course is offered by 30 schools in school boards across Ontario including the Toronto District School Board, Waterloo Region, Hastings Prince Edward County, and Hamilton-Wentworth.

Holocaust History Net
Is a resource developed by Beth Shalom Holocaust foundation, located in the United Kingdom. Beth Shalom operates a Holocaust Education Centre and Museum Nottinghamshire, England, as well as three web-based resource sites, one of which is holocuasthistory.net. The site is an online, introductory guide for high school students that provides basic information to help them learn about the Holocaust. Students learn about events and people and learn to ask questions. While moving through the guide, students will find photographs, documents, video footage, and hear the stories of real persons.

Holocaust Teacher Resource Center
This site is dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. It strives to combat prejudice and bigotry by transforming the horrors of the Holocaust into positive lessons. Sponsored by the Holocaust Education Foundation, Inc., it features a variety of resources, including unit and lesson plans for different grade levels.

Holocaust Unit Plans and Resources
This site is part of a web-based resource for teachers, maintained by Jerrie S. Cheek of Kennesaw State University. It offers a description of, and links to, a variety of unit and lesson plans on the Holocaust and related subjects for different grade levels.

Holocaust and Resistance
This lesson plan on the Holocaust and Resistance is featured on the EDSITEment, a site by the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the National Trust for the Humanities and the MarcoPolo Education Foundation. It features online humanities resources from some of the world’s great museums, libraries, cultural institutions, and universities. In the lesson plan, students reflect on the Holocaust from the point of view of those who actively resisted Nazi persecution. After reviewing the history of the Holocaust, in order to understand the legal and bureaucratic authority with which the Nazis systematically enforced their policies, students debate options for resistance and their likely outcomes.

Jewish Heritage Video Collection
This site provides information on the television series on antisemitism, The Longest Hatred, which was broadcast on PBS in 1991. (Robert S. Wistrich, a historical adviser to the series, wrote a companion book, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred.) The film The Longest Hatred consists of three parts, each slightly less than an hour long. The first part is entitled “From the Cross to the Swastika,” the second part focuses on antisemitism in Germany today, and the third part focuses on antisemitism in the Arab world.

Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum Resources and Training
This site offers a wide variety of resources and teaching plans suitable for both elementary and senior years.

Museum of Tolerance: Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Simon Wiesenthal Center operates two Museums of Tolerance, one located in Los Angles and one in Jerusalem. The Museum offers a number of online educators resources related to teaching about the Holocaust. These include teacher guides, Go for Broke Foundation Testimonies, Holocaust resources, stories of children of the Holocaust, and resources related to asking questions and receiving responses from Survivors.

Asociatia Tikvah Website
Asociatia Tikvah is a Romanian not-for-profit Holocaust remembrance and human rights
Organization with a focus on the City of Ordea in Northern Romania. Oradea was a vibrant centre of Jewish life and culture, which was cruelly cut short by the Holocaust. The site is dedicated to ensuring that the Jews of Ordea and their lives are remembered and honoured. The site offers an interest array of local historical and educator resources, as well as general resources about the Holocaust in Europe.

Stories that Move
This is a European website dedicated to confronting antisemitism, racism and discrimination. This online “toolbox” is intended to challenge students (ages 14 – 17 years old) lto think critically about diversity and discrimination in their communities and to reflect on their own position, choices, and actions. Teachers must register and then they are provided with a PIN for students to use. PDF formats of the resources are also available. The website is multilingual and offers content in seven European languages (Dutch, English, German, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian).

Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
The VHEC has developed a general resource, which includes guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust, suggestions for preparing students for survivor speakers, frequently asked questions about the Holocaust, a timeline, a glossary, as well as recommended websites and readings. In addition, there are several well-developed and excellent units on themes such as the “Enemy Aliens,” Maus, Anne Frank, the persecution of homosexuals, Greece and the Holocaust, the Albanian Muslim rescuers during the Holocaust, Janusz Korczak, the Hitler Olympics and much more! All include teaching guides.

International and Other Relevant Organizations

The Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota
This site provides a list of, and links to, Holocaust organizations worldwide. It is composed of several sections, including a virtual museum of Holocaust and genocide-related art; a section dedicated to histories, narratives and documents, educational resources, links, and a bibliography; and contact information.

Jewish-Christian Relations
This site is owned and maintained by the International Council of Christians and Jews, which has 38 Christian-Jewish and interreligious member organizations in 32 countries. Its headquarters is in the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim, Germany, where the great Jewish thinker lived until Nazi persecution forced him to flee. The site features articles and book reviews, and links to resources on antisemitism, world religions, and interfaith education.

The EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure) Online Course in Holocaust Studies
A complete and evolving course. Each unit includes a general introduction as well as a discussion of the historiography of the subject at hand and an appraisal of the pertinent source types. Subsequently, approximately five chapters offer perspectives on chosen central issues of the topic. Each of these chapters consist of an introduction to the specific issue as well as about ten sources (including texts, photographs, sound and video sources). Sources will be presented first in facsimile wherever possible, followed by a transcription in the original language where legibility is an issue. This is to ensure that students appreciate the linguistic dimensions of Holocaust research as well as the often challenging layout and appearance of original documents.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally. It provides teaching guidelines for use in teacher training courses and to provide support and direction to educators in the field of Holocaust education. Its resources are available in several languages. New topics include “Using Social Media in Holocaust Education” and “The Holocaust and Other Genocides.”

Selected Video Resources

Margaret and Arthur’s Story (2013)
A video about Danna her and children’s questions about the Holocaust and how that led to the Grandparents, Margaret and Arthur, sharing their stories and experiences with the Holocaust. The video retells the story of Margaret Sadler and Arthur Wise.

The Azrieli Foundation’s, Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program Videos
The Holocaust Memoirs Program features a number of survivors for whom both books and films are available. Currently, 26 videos are available.

One Survivor Remembers
Teaching Tolerance In cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and HBO present the Oscar-winning documentary "One Survivor Remembers" online.

Prisoner Number A26188: Henia Bryer (Holocaust Survivor Documentary) | Timeline
Timeline is offers resources on world history. Their YouTube Channel features docuementaries licesnsed from various broadcasters. Prisoner Number A26188 features Henia Bryer’s memories and experiences of the Holocaust.

National Film Board- International Holocaust Remembrance Day Playlist
This playlist is a compilation of selected learning resources, including some NFB films and sources provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, UNESCO, the USC Shoah Foundation and Holocaust education centres throughout Canada.

Selected Bibliography of Print Resources

A number of the organizations and websites listed earlier provide selected and annotated bibliographies with respect to educator and student print resources.  In this section, we will highlight a few selected resources for teachers and provide links to a few of the more up to date bibliographies provided by other organizations.

Selected Teacher Texts

Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Jolanta, et al. Research in Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust: a Dialogue beyond Borders. Metropol Verlag, 2017
In 2013, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) initiated an international study of how the Holocaust is taught and students’ experiences with the subject in schools. A multilingual expert team was charged with the task of collecting and reviewing research from across the globe. This book is the result of the team’s work over a 3-year period.

Cowan, Paula, and Henry Maitles. Understanding and Teaching Holocaust Education. Sage Publications, 2017.
The Holocaust is a complex and difficult teaching topic that requires sensitivity and an awareness of the complex and emotional issues involved. This book offers very useful guidance for experienced and novice teachers on how to teach holocaust education in a meaningful and age-appropriate way.
Topics covered include:

  • approaches and useful resources for teaching in school
  • Holocaust education and citizenship
  • Holocaust remembrance and the classroom
  • exploring antisemitism in the classroom
  • exploring international perspectives on holocaust education

Haperen, Maria van et al. The Holocaust and Other Genocides: An Introduction. NIOD Inst. for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2012 Adobe PDF
The editors are affiliated with NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The text contains five articles that focus on different cases of genocide during the twentieth century. The last article focuses on legal definitions of genocide as well as various institutions and tribunals that have been created to seek justice and or punish perpetrators of genocidal crimes.

Totten, Samuel & Feinburg, Stephen, Eds. Teaching and Studying the Holocaust. Information Age Pub, 2009.
Teaching and Studying the Holocaust features the work of some of the most noted Holocaust educators in the United States. It features thirteen chapters comprised of thirteen chapters that cover topics from a rationale for Holocaust education to chapters on incorporating primary documents, first person accounts, film, literature, art, drama, music, and technology into the study of the Holocaust.

Annotated Bibliographies

Children’s Books: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This bibliography was compiled by the USHMM to help guide parents, educators, and young readers in selecting children’s books about the Holocaust and related subjects. The list is not intended to be exhaustive and focuses on resources available in the organization’s holdings. The annotations provided give a brief description of the story or topic of each title.

Teaching about the Holocaust: A Selected Bibliography Adobe PDF (Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa (2011)
The books selected for this bibliography in 2011 were considered some of the best resources for grades 6-12.  The list includes a variety of genres and formats all with a brief summary of each title and any awards or other special recognition that the resource has received.

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