Break the class into three. Each group is to take one of the following groups of people as a research focus; Observers, Perpetrators or Victims.
In your groups you are to research the stories behind your chosen group and the justification for any action (or inaction) taken. You will be feeding your findings back to the class.
Group 1: Observers
Observers who acted for the Jews
Below you will find some examples of observers who acted to protect and aid the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
“Whosoever saves a single Jew,” teaches the Babylonian Talmud, “Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had saved an entire world.” Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980552,00.html#ixzz1Q49GfdPt
Irene Sendler; Oskar Schindler;Leopold and Magdalena Socha. Other observers who acted to help the Jews can be found on the following site
Oskar Schindler, an accidental hero and industrialist made famous in the book and film Schindler’s List, saved over a 1000 Jews from deportation and almost certain death. Click on the image to find out more.
Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara
Observers who acted against the Jews
Ye site Nazi Collaborators has a number of short bio’s that may help your research.
Aleksandras Lileikis, the wartime chief of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Security Police
Observers who stood by and did nothing
Group 2: Perpetrators of the Shoah
Consider the role of these people in the Holocaust. You may discover other names appear and which should be added to the list. Consider who they were, what their motivation was and also, if you are able, how they justified their actions. Adolf Hitler; Eichmann; Henrich Himmler; Joseph Goebbles, SS General Reinhard Heydrich, German General Odilo Globocnik (SS and police leader for the Lublin District), Zionists in Germany (http://jewsnotzionists.org/holocaust-zionism.htm), Hermann Goering.
Group 3: Victims
Testimony: Gather information from the testimonies of four Holocaust survivors. Create a profile on one which will be placed on the wall and presented to the class.
Diaries of the children of the Holocaust
Children and Their Diaries During the Holocaust
Between 1939 and 1945, six million Jews, including one-and-a-half-million children and teenagers, were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. According to Nazi racial ideology, all Jews regardless of age were deemed unworthy of life.
The Holocaust was a period in which Jews were robbed of all liberties. They were starved, beaten, forced into hard labor, packed into closed ghettos, and murdered. Those still alive faced a daily struggle for survival. Despite and perhaps because of these hardships, we see a phenomenon of widespread diary writing, as well as personal and organized documentation efforts. The children, like all Jews, faced similar hardships, and many of them kept diaries as well. Due to the nature of war, only a very few of these personal accounts survived. Overall, these children enjoyed a relatively normal, worry-free childhood before the Second World War. Whether from Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Hungary or Lithuania, They were born into Jewish communities that had existed in Europe for thousands of years.
One these children was Moshe Flinker. Moshe Ze’ev Flinker was born in The Hague, The Netherlands, on October 9, 1926, and was eventually murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. In 1942, after the Germans and the Dutch police began rounding up Jews for deportation, he fled along with his family to Brussels, Belgium, where the 16-year-old Moshe kept his diary. He writes:
November 24, 1942
“For some time now I have wanted to note down every evening what I have been doing during the day. But, for various reasons, I have not got round to it until tonight. First, let me explain why I am doing this – and I must start by describing why I came here to Brussels. I was born in The Hague, the Dutch Queen’s city, where I passed my early years peacefully. I went to elementary school and then to commercial school, where I studied for only two years .”
We can estimate Moshe’s motives for writing the diary:
- Why does someone keep a diary?
- Do you think Moshe’s motives for keeping a diary were similar to those of children today?
February 13, 1944Discussion Questions
“I’ve turned thirteen, I was born on Friday the thirteenth. [..] From Grandpa, [I received] phonograph records of the kind I like. My grandfather bought them so that I should learn French lyrics, which will make Ági [mother] happy, because she isn’t happy about my school record cards except when I get a good mark in French [..] I do a lot of athletics, swimming, skating, bicycle riding and exercise. [..] I’ve written enough today. You’re probably tired, dear diary.”
- Eva Heyman was born in 1931 in Nagyvárad, Hungary. She was murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1944. Early in her diary she describes her thirteenth birthday, and lists the presents she received:
- What can we learn about Eva’s life and family from this excerpt? How would you describe her?
- How do you think Eva perceives herself?
The Onslaught of Nazi OccupationMarch 19, 1944Dawid Sierakowiak was born in Lodz, Poland in 1934. He perished in the Lodz ghetto, a victim of starvation and illness. In his diary, he describes hearing the Germans have entered Lodz: “Lodz is occupied! The beginning of the day was calm, too calm. In the afternoon I sat in the park and drew a sketch of a girlfriend. Then all of a sudden the terrifying news: Lodz has been surrendered! German patrols on Piotrkowska street. Fear, surprise [..] Meanwhile, all conversation stops; the streets grow deserted; faces and hearts are covered with gloom, cold severity and hostility.”In 1941, the Nazi’s captured Vilna. Fourteen-year-old Yitskhok writes: “Monday was also an uneasy day. Red Army soldiers crowded into autos are continually riding to Lipovke. The residents are also running away. People say with despair that the Red Army is abandoning us. The Germans are marching on Vilna. The evening of that desperate day approaches. The autos with Red Army soldiers are fleeing. I understand that they are leaving us. I am certain, however, that resistance will come. I look at the fleeing army and I am certain that it will return victoriously.”Read the following descriptions:
- June 1941
- Yitskhok Rudashevski was born in Vilna (now Lithuania) in 1927. He eventually perished in Ponary.
- September 8, 1939
“Dear diary, you’re the luckiest one in the world, because you cannot feel, you cannot know what a terrible thing has happened to us. The Germans have come!”
- The children’s daily routine was disrupted with the Nazi occupation. Although the Germans began to target Jews for persecution, the situation differed from country to country and region to region.
- To the teacher: This excerpt portrays Eva’s rich cultural and personal background – a thirteen-year-old girl with varied interests and hobbies. She has a supportive family, which encourages Eva in her activities.
- How would you characterize the different reactions to the invasion?
- What do these reactions tell us about the children’s view of the situation?
- To the teacher: with the outbreak of the war, many Jews hoped and believed it would end quickly.
Testimony Halina Wagowska
Read the following extract from Halina’s book or
Click on the image below, read and listen to the audio file of Richard Stubbs’ interview.
Research legacy of Schindler’s list. How many subsequent lives have resulted from the original people on the list?