The Holocaust is a compulsory requirement of the current Key Stage 3 History curriculum and features in many of the GCSE History courses on offer. It also links to the Citizenship and RE subject areas, and can be approached through English and PSHE. Independently of the curriculum, learning about the Holocaust can help students understand the dangers of prejudice and discrimination. The events of the Holocaust can provide a framework for students to debate many of the issues that impact on their own lives.
How can this website help Holocaust teaching?
We do not aim to provide a comprehensive guide to teaching the Holocaust. There are many good ones available: the International Task Force for co-operation on Holocaust education, remembrance and research provides detailed teaching guidelines. Instead we have focused on offering practical, useable lesson ideas based on the first hand testimony of survivors themselves.
Dignified, personal accounts
Holocaust education can be inappropriate. It can be tempting to use horrific imagery in an attempt to shock and motivate students. However, much of the photographic evidence of the Holocaust was produced by the perpetrators. If we focus on this material, then the images the perpetrators had of their victims will be the same ones our students see. Shock doesn't create a worthwhile learning experience, nor does it help the students explore the important issues that surround the Holocaust. The videos, stories and reflections on this site can help guard against this. Survivors' own stories of what happened are told in a dignified, personal way.
Focus on the individuals
Holocaust education can be statistical and impersonal. Individual stories get lost in a mass of numbers. Students struggle with the figures and find it difficult to relate to what happened in any meaningful way. The stories on this site are personal, told in the words of the survivors themselves. Students can link individual experiences to dates and events and understand the impact on real people.
What happened next?
The survivors' stories do not end in 1945 but continue through to the present day. Their testimony provides us with an understanding of how the events of the Holocaust have shaped their lives, and are an ongoing testimony to the strength of the human spirit. The articles on the 'Reflections' page include perspectives from second generation, showing how the impact of the Holocaust continues to resonate. We regularly find that students come up with similar questions when they hear one of our survivors speak. Some of the questions can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
This section has a number of aids to using the stories on the website, including ideas for starters and plenaries and specific examples of lesson plans. We are grateful to Paul Clayton, Head of Humanities at Guiseley School, for producing these resources. We would love to know how they are being used in lessons, or hear suggestions for how other teachers have made use of this site. Please contact us if you'd like to share your ideas.