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People from around the world meet at the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau for the March of the Living to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Photo credit: wjarek
#5 Blog 2023

People from around the world meet at the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau for the March of the Living to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Photo credit: wjarek

Teaching About Holocaust Remembrance

April 17, 2023

Teaching About Holocaust Remembrance

Data suggests we need more Holocaust education in classrooms to raise student awareness and combat antisemitism in the United States.

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This updated blog was originally published on January 23, 2023.

In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 declaring that Holocaust Remembrance Day is to be observed on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp. However, the internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar (typically in April or May). These commemorations remember more than 6 million Jews, and millions more victims, including Poles, Ukrainians, Roma, labor unionists, “subversive” artists, resisters, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the disabled, political dissidents and others who were murdered by the Nazi regime during World War II. These days serve as a reminder of the dangers of hatred, prejudice and discrimination, and is a call to action to combat antisemitism, fascism and genocide in all forms

Does your school include Holocaust education? The curriculum in 21 states as of 2022 introduces most students to the Holocaust at the secondary level, but for others in the 29 states that don’t require the Holocaust to be taught, the only knowledge students have is through their families, friends or what they’re exposed to online–where dis- and misinformation about the Holocaust and the Jewish community is rife.

Disinformation Resources on Share My Lesson

Explore resources that will assist students in identifying and dismantling disinformation campaigns online and in the media.

What are some of the outcomes for students when history is omitted from our schools? Given that we’ve seen an alarming surge in book bannings across school districts in the United States, the banning of The Diary of Anne Frank in some areas definitely does not help in fixing the issue. 

In a 2020 survey, 63 percent of all U.S. respondents did not know that more than 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and 56 percent of U.S. millennials and Gen Zers have never heard of the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. And according to a 2023 study from the ADL, a leading organization that tracks and combats antisemitism and other forms of hate, the U.S. has experienced a dramatic increase in antisemitic attitudes in America in recent years. One of the topline findings highlights that the prevalence of anti-Jewish tropes is at an all-time high. The percentage of Americans who believe at least one anti-Jewish trope has increased to 85 percent from 61 percent in 2019. View the chart from ADL below to see which tropes are most prevalent.

adl chart

This significant rise in antisemitism and the concerning lack of Holocaust knowledge among our students highlights the need for educational resources and an open dialogue with communities that help support our collective memories and raise awareness of one of the 20th century's greatest tragedies. It is not only to keep the memory alive of the tragic events of World War 2, but to increase awareness and prevent attacks and genocides and scapegoating of all persecuted communities globally.

Visualizing Genocide Around the World

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Statistical Risk Assessment issued through its “Early Warning Project” works to identify countries at risk for mass killing, raise warning signs, and encourage policy makers to take action to prevent mass atrocities. Learn more about why this work is important, and view a map of countries that are seen as “at-risk” for mass atrocities.

Share My Lesson works with partners like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other like-minded organizations as well as educators and community members to create free lesson plans and resources for K-16 educators and families to open a dialogue with students about the Holocaust, its impact and its legacy. Take a moment and explore a selection of nine resources from our Holocaust Remembrance collection, and see how you can raise awareness in your classroom and community.

A holocaust survivor speaks during an interview.

Final Account: Teaching the Holocaust, Complicity, Propaganda and Responsibility

As heightened antisemitism and outright denial of facts concerning the Holocaust become more commonplace, this program opens up classrooms to new, vital questions about complicity, propaganda and responsibility. This webinar with the USC Shoah Foundation - Institute for Visual History, is available for one-hour of PD credit.

Access this resource here.
A Holocaust victim's passport

Visual Literacy: Personal Narratives of Holocaust Survivors

The lesson from user Anastasia Belyaeva introduces students to the personal story of a Holocaust survivor. Students learn about the visual elements as the impactful narrative devices used to convey the ideas and attitudes that underpinned the experience of persecuted Jews. In the course of the lesson, students explore how illustration and motion graphics reinforce the personal narratives of the Holocaust survivors.

Access this resource here.
Introduction to the Holocaust: Documentary Film and Classroom Materials

Introduction to the Holocaust: Documentary Film and Classroom Materials

By providing a concise overview of the Holocaust and what made it possible, this resource from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is intended to provoke reflection and discussion about the role of ordinary people, institutions, and nations between 1918 and 1945.

Access this resource here.
How To Teach About The Holocaust

How To Teach About The Holocaust

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides guidance to help educators increase their knowledge of Holocaust history and implement sound teaching strategies. With these resources, the Museum presents an overview of rationale, methodology, essential topics to teach, and where to find authoritative and appropriate content.

Access this resource here.
A United States flag with a swastika turned into a message of love.

Anti-Semitic Incidents: Being an Ally, Advocate and Activist

This lesson from ADL provides an opportunity for students to learn about and reflect on these current incidents, understand how people and groups can make a difference, and explore the various ways different people and groups can act as allies, advocates and activists in order to enact change.

Access this resource here.
Survivors of the Holocaust: Educator Guide

Survivors of the Holocaust: Educator Guide

Survivors of the Holocaust tells the true stories of six children who survived the Holocaust in a graphic non-fiction novel form. This educator guide from Sourcebooks provides questions and activities to help children read and understand the text.

Access this resource here.
song lyrics

The Song "6,000,000" as a Poem

Hank Fellows, known as "America's Songwriter," has inspired many with his patriotic songs across the U.S., including his 2006 Holocaust reflection, "6,000,000." This impactful song, first performed at New Jersey's Holocaust Remembrance Day, has been widely embraced by educational institutions, religious organizations, and groups like the Anti-Defamation League. Use this song and accompanying teachig guide to engage students.

Access this resource here.
us and the holocaust

Exploring "The U.S. and the Holocaust" a Film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein

Join one of the keynote sessions on demand from the 2023 Share My Lesson Virtual Conference for an enlightening discussion on "The U.S and the Holocaust," a documentary series by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein exploring America's response to the Holocaust. Director Sarah Botstein discusses the series' creation, its impactful testimonies, and Facing History shares educational strategies for classroom integration.

Access this resource here.
samuel project poster

The Samuel Project

Inspire your students to launch their own “Samuel Project” with these project-planning activity sheets from Young Minds Inspired designed to help middle school and high school art and language arts studentschronicle the stories of an older relative or friend in any medium, including drawing, cartooning, animation, photography, video, and music. 

Access this resource here.
Teaching About Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass

Teaching About Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass

This lesson from Echoes & Reflections provides primary source documents and visual history testimony about the Kristallnacht Pogrom, which is widely considered a key turning point in the Nazi agenda against the Jews. Students study several documents related to the event in order to compare and contrast source material and think critically about the significance of this pogromfor the Jewish people and in the context of Nazi Germany.

Access this resource here.
chuck schumer

Sen. Chuck Schumer Speech on Antisemitism

Watch this speech from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer given on Nov. 29, 2023, addressing the rise of antisemitism in the U.S. Schumer, the nation's highest-ranking Jewish elected official, describes the recent spike in antisemitic incidents as a "crisis" and a "five-alarm fire” that must be extinguished. Then utilize the accompanying lesson plan.

Access this resource here.

Honoring the Past and Protecting the Future

For our sense of humanity, we must honor and respect the experiences, struggles and tragedies of past generations, particularly those that have suffered from injustice and oppression. Holocaust education serves as an essential tool in preventing future mass killings by fostering awareness of the catastrophic consequences of hatred, discrimination and intolerance. By studying the Holocaust and past genocides, we delve into the darkest chapters of human history, where millions of innocent lives were systematically annihilated. This knowledge is vital to ensure that we remain vigilant in recognizing early warning signs of such atrocities—and to understand the societal conditions that can give rise to such devastating events. These lessons promote empathy, tolerance, and respect for human rights and diversity, equipping future generations with the moral compass necessary to challenge and counteract hate-driven ideologies. Ultimately, teaching about the Holocaust strengthens our collective resolve to ensure that such horrors are never repeated, and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of upholding the values of justice, compassion and human dignity. 

I also encourage you to explore Share My Lesson’s Jewish American Heritage Month collection for more resources to celebrate the accomplishments of Jewish Americans and the values of Judaism and how both have contributed to U.S. history and democracy.
 

Free Holocaust Education Resources

Teaching about human suffering and horrific tragedies can be difficult, but the need for educators to fill troubling knowledge gaps is clear. Share My Lesson has collaborated with partners like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, ADL and more to bring you this collection of free Holocaust lesson plans and educational resources that provides the tools you need to raise awareness around “The Shoah” and analyze its impact on the world today.

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Andy Kratochvil

Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, video games, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community.He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from Americ

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