Holocaust / Shoah Education
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Our 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, homosexuals, 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.
The term “Holocaust” is derived from the Greek term for a burnt offering. In contemporary literature and history, it is used to refer to the systematic Nazi destruction of European Jewry, which began in 1933 when Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. 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, people with disabilities, and political enemies were also targeted by the Nazis, and were victims of persecution and violence.
There 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 anti-Semitism in Germany and throughout Europe, and had a distinctly Jewish aspect to it. Arguably, without this Jewish aspect, there would have been no Holocaust.
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 anti-Semitism, 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 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
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.)
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 the period of a decade or more, 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, Holocaust Awareness 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 Holocaust Awareness Week activities and related programs in Winnipeg may be found on the Holocaust Awareness Committee of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg website.
The Holocaust Awareness Committee of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg is composed of survivors, members of the Second Generation Group, alumni of the March of the Living, and educators. The committee
- produces The Holocaust Remembered, a comprehensive newsletter, twice annually (spring and fall). For more information or to be placed on the mailing list, telephone the Department of Community Relations: 204-477-7423
- organizes Holocaust Awareness Week, a week of commemorative services and educational programs around Yom Hashoah
- organizes Kristallnacht programming (Night of Breaking Glass, November 9, 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 nearly 1,000 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 Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre is located at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. Visitors enter 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 Centre’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 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.
There is no charge for these presentations; however, donations would be gratefully appreciated as they help pay for overhead costs and ensure continued programming. Tax receipts are available.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit the website at http://www.ffhec.org, including the online downloadable Symposium Guide for Educators, which includes links to lesson plans.
- The Holocaust Education Centre sponsors an annual Holocaust Symposium for high school students at the University of Winnipeg. In the afternoon breakout sessions with local survivors are offered. An educators' guide is now available online at http://www.ffhec.org/educators.cfm. Online registration is now available.
- The Centre is also proud to sponsor the Mina Rosner Human Rights Award. The $400 prize is awarded annually to a Manitoba student in grade 9-12 who produces the best essay on the theme of the Holocaust or other important human rights issues.
Essays will be judged for proficiency in conducting research, presentation of issues, sincerity, coherence, and writing skills. Students are encouraged to visit the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, Asper Jewish Community Campus, 123 Doncaster Street, to learn more about the Holocaust. Essays should be 1000 -1500 words in length, typed double-spaced and neatly presented.
Please send entries to the Mina Rosner Human Rights Award, c/o The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada (Attention: Belle Millo), C140-123 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3N 2B2. Entries can also be submitted electronically to email@example.com. Please note "MIna Rosner Essay Competition Entry" in the subject line and use Microsoft Word format or PDF format. Please ensure that you provide an email address, name and phone number where you can be reached. Any questions can be submitted to the same email address with "Mina Rosner Essay Competition Question" in the subject line. Further information is available at http://www.ffhec.org/educators.cfm.
- The Out of the Attic Discovery Trunk with articles on Anne Frank and others during their hiding in Holland during WW ll is available to educators on loan. Please contact the office at 204-477-7460 for further information.
- Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors, edited by Belle Millo, 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.”
- The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre is pleased to announce a new outreach program in addition to the presentations in the Holocaust Education Centre located at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. In recognition of the fact that the distance of some schools from the Centre may preclude their ability to come into Winnipeg to hear the presentations, Walter Saltzberg, one of our survivors has most generously offered to travel to schools to tell his story. Walter’s overriding concern is provide Holocaust education to as many students as he can, in particular through survivor testimony, and that over the years, we have missed many students living outside of Winnipeg.
The Holocaust Education Centre will fully fund Walter's travel to schools within a radius of 200 km of Winnipeg. For schools that are farther away than that, we would only require that the schools cover Walter's out-of-pocket expenses, such as gas and overnight accommodations, if required, due to the travel time to and from Winnipeg. His presentation, geared to students in grades 7-12, is about two hours in length. Not only does Walter educate students on the Holocaust and his experiences as a child survivor, most important as a key component of the Human Rights and World Issues curricula, he is inspiring as he talks to students of the importance of overcoming tremendous difficulty. He talks about the importance of hard work and being able to accomplish what you set your mind to do. This is a man who has experienced emotional and physical trauma, who was orphaned, who was left with a disability, and yet through very hard work and perseverance, became a very accomplished man - a civil engineer who taught for many years at the University of Manitoba - a true inspiration. For further information please call 204-477-7460.
Over the past two decades, an organized effort to deny or minimize the established history of Nazi genocide against the Jews has emerged. In Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world, the movement has drawn attention in recent years as a result of “revisionist” conferences, 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 anti-Semitism, they question whether this hatred resulted in the atrocities and genocide documented by survivors and historians.
Similar propaganda has established a presence on the Internet. In addition to creating their own home pages, Holocaust deniers and hate groups have “crashed” the sites of legitimate Holocaust and Jewish discussion groups in an effort at anti-Jewish provocation and self-promotion.
As a result, educators engaged in Holocaust education should screen websites carefully for authenticity and accuracy, and should expect that students who come across Holocaust denial websites or literature may raise questions about the Holocaust. It may be prudent for educators to be proactive, and to include the study of Holocaust denial and contemporary anti-Semitism in Holocaust education units or lesson plans.
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, Lesson Plans and Teachers’ Resources, and International and Other Relevant Organizations.
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".
The History of Anti-Semitism Sites
The Holocaust has it origins in the long history of anti-Semitism in Europe. An understanding of how anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitism historically and in contemporary settings. Many websites have sections that deal with anti-Semitism.
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.
The Centre for German-Jewish Studies
The University of Sussex provides excerpts from religious and historical texts which illuminate anti-Semitism in Europe and provide a historical context for the Holocaust.
Australian Memories of
This is an excellent educational website on the Holocaust with resources on the history of anti-Semitism in general, and Nazi Anti-Semitism specifically.
The 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.
The 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.
Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth: Holocaust Bibliography ( 124 KB)
This is an annotated list of some resources about the Holocaust available from the Instructional Resources Unit of the Department. Please note that there are additional resources not listed in the bibliography; contact Reference and Information Services for further information and assistance.
Open Hearts: Closed Doors
This is a section of the Virtual Museum of Canada, which is dedicated to showcasing 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 immigrated 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 HopeSite: The Web’s Centre for Holocaust
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 anti-Semitism—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.
Canadian Jewish Congress
The Canadian Jewish Congress website offers information and resources related to the Holocaust, throughout Canada and in other centres.
Canadian Council of Christians and
CCCJ is a national, non-sectarian organization dedicated to promoting cultural, racial, and religious equality among the people of Canada through the development and implementation of education and research initiatives. The Council is committed to organizing and acquiring resources for scholarships, lectures, publications and videos, research, and conferences—endeavours to teach Canadians about the dangers of prejudice and the value of diversity and a shared sense of community. The site features information on programs and activities sponsored by the organization.
League for Human Rights of
B’nai Brith Canada
This part of the B'nai Brith website features an online teacher’s guide for Yom ha-Shoah Holocaust Memorial Day. Additional resources on Holocaust education are also available.
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 Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs - Classroom Resources
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. SIGN UP NOW!
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 Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
This teacher resource was produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, 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.
The Jewish Heritage Video
This site provides information on the television series on anti-Semitism, The Longest Hatred, which was broadcast on PBS in 1991. (Robert S. Wistrich, an 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 anti-Semitism in Germany today, and the third part focuses on anti-Semitism in the Arab world.
Holocaust Teacher Education Resource
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 Cybrary: Remembering the Survivors
This excellent site was launched in 1995 and is dedicated to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. It features educator and student resources including lesson plans, an image bank, art exhibits, stories and experiences of survivors, and “Tracing Families”—a resource for helping those looking for family members who may have survived the Holocaust.
Holocaust Unit Plans and
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.
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.
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.
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 anti-Semitism, world religions, and interfaith education.