Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission Awareness - Education - Inspiration

Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 27 – 31, 2020

INTRODUCTION

SB 1828 instructs the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission (THGC) to develop or approve materials for a statewide Holocaust Remembrance Week, starting in the 2019-2020 school year. At the THGC’s suggestion, the Governor’s Office has chosen the week of January 27, 2020 as the date for Remembrance Week. (International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27, which is the date that Auschwitz was “liberated” by Allied troops.)

School districts and educators are advised to read the legislation. The THGC is not tasked with presenting a fixed curriculum that all schools must follow for Holocaust Remembrance Week. Acknowledging that Texas students are best served when educators have choices in the shaping of instruction, the THGC leaves it up to individual school districts to observe Holocaust Remembrance Week by selecting from any of the items listed/linked on this page. On this page, the THGC has sought to assemble a variety of materials that readily align with different subject matters, intelligences, and teaching styles.

SB 1828 also calls for age-appropriate instruction, as determined by each school district.
*Please note that the THGC, like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, does not recommend explicit Holocaust instruction before 6th grade. Elementary schools may choose their own materials that cover broader themes, such as community, tolerance, being an upstander, and anti-bullying.
 

BEST PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM

In planning Holocaust Remembrance Week observance, the THGC looks to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM)’s Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust. The THGC strongly recommends that all educators familiarize themselves with these ten guidelines before offering any instruction on the Holocaust.

For additional guidance, educators can find Lawrence Langer’s essay, “Opening Locked Doors: Reflections on Teaching the Holocaust” in the THGC’s Online Digital Library for Educators (ODLE). (See below for access.)

Educators are also advised to review the THGC’s “Red Flag Terms” list to understand the implications and importance of language in teaching about the Holocaust.
 

RECOMMENDED THGC RESOURCES

All THGC-created materials are approved for use in Holocaust Remembrance Week. The following resources that have been developed by the THGC are particularly recommended as good starting points.

RECOMMENDED OUTSIDE RESOURCES

Materials from the following museums are recommended by the THGC. Most also provide educator training and support, and some present online survivor video testimonies of various lengths.


OTHER RECOMMENDED OUTSIDE RESOURCES

The THGC is aware that there are numerous available resources on the Holocaust. Seeking to give educators a range of choices, the THGC has approved the following short list of materials, many of which present firsthand accounts. Also, the THGC has tried to restrict the list to works that are readily available, are a productive use of a class’s time, offer a wide variety of perspectives, and can reach students in different subjects, not just social studies.

Educators wishing to extend lessons to include other genocides may look to resources on the THGC website, as well as materials from outside organizations and museums listed above. In particular, the experiences of the Roma, who were also persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, are a valid extension of lessons on the Holocaust. The research on the Roma by former THGC Commissioner Dr. Ian Hancock of the University of Texas is worth exploring. Doris Bergen’s War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust also includes several pages on the Roma.

Please be aware that Holocaust education inevitably engages disturbing themes. Some of the recommended materials include written accounts or imagery that may not be suitable to all students. The THGC cautions that educators should closely review materials according to local community and district standards before electing to teach with them.
 

SHORT LIST OF RECOMMENDED READINGS FOR
HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES

Bauer, Yehuda. A History of the Holocaust.
     *One of the most commonly taught secondary history texts

Borowski, Tadeusz. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, translated by Barbara Vedder.
     *Collection of short stories by a non-Jew who was imprisoned in Auschwitz
     *Some stories are very short
     *Two of the stories may be found in the ODLE

Browning, Christopher. The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942.
     *Very detailed secondary history text

Celan, Paul. Selected Poetry of Paul Celan, translated by Paul Felstiner.
     *Poems by survivor
     *Includes several of the most critically lauded Holocaust poems, such as “Death Fugue”
     *Some poems may be found in the ODLE

Davidowicz, Lucy. The War Against the Jews.
     *One of the first and most commonly taught secondary history texts

Delbo, Charlotte. None of Us Shall Return.
     *Memoir by a non-Jew who was imprisoned in Auschwitz
     *Can also be found published as a part of a much longer trilogy in one volume, Auschwitz and After
     *Includes both prose and poetry

Frankl, Victor. Man’s Search for Meaning.
     *Survivor memoir

Hiemer, Ernst. The Poisonous Mushroom, with illustrations by “Fipps”
     *Children’s picture book
     *Highly disturbing Nazi antisemitic propaganda designed for young children, originally published by Julius
     Streicher
     *A first edition may be seen on exhibit at Holocaust Museum Houston
     *Facsimile available at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist151/Nazi/poisonousmushroom.pdf

Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews.
     *One of the first and most commonly taught secondary history texts

Hochstadt, Steve. Sources of the Holocaust.
     *Anthology of short primary sources

Laqueur, Walter. The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day.
     *Somewhat comprehensive examination of antisemitism, including Nazism

Leitner, Isabella. Fragments of Isabella.
     *Survivor memoir
     *New edition published in 2018
     *Very short chapters and short overall length

Lengyel, Olga. Five Chimneys.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Especially graphic and horrifying descriptions, even compared to most other memoirs

Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz.
     *Survivor memoir
     *One of the most famous and critically lauded memoirs
     *All memoirs by Levi are recommended
     *An excerpt from Levi’s The Reawakening is available in the ODLE.

Millu, Liana. Smoke Over Birkenau.
     *Survivor memoir

Müller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Describes work by Sonderkommando in the gas chambers

Nomberg-Przytyk, Sarah. Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land.
     *Survivor memoir

Ozick, Cynthia. The Shawl.
     *Novella
     *Describes a mother’s horror at the brutal murder of her baby in a camp
     *Short length
     *Entire story may be found in the ODLE    

Radnóti, Miklós. Foamy Sky: The Major Poems of Miklós Radnóti, A Bilingual Edition, translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner.
     *Poems by victim of the Holocaust
     *Victim was shot into mass grave; some poems were found in his pocket when his corpse was exhumed
     *Both translators are faculty at UT-Dallas, and Ozsváth is a survivor

UN Report on Antisemitism
     *Released September 2019
     *https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Religion/A_74_47921ADV.pdf

Wiesel, Elie. Night.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Author was the most famous survivor in the world and the recipient of Nobel Peace Prize
     *Comparatively short length
     *Excerpts may be found in the ODLE
 

SHORT LIST OF RECOMMENDED READINGS FOR
MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSES

Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust.
     *Illustrated secondary history text

Klein, Gerda Weissmann. All But My Life.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Describes concentration camps and death march
     *Author and account are also the subject of Oscar-winning documentary, One Survivor Remembers
     *Excerpts are available in the ODLE

Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna. When the Danube Ran Red.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Describes hiding, witnessing the mass shooting of Jews
     *Texas connection: Author is an Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies at UT-Dallas
     *A few chapters may be found in the ODLE.

Pagis, Dan. The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis, translated by Stephen Mitchell.
     *Poems by a survivor
     *Includes famous Holocaust poems, including “Written in Pencil on the Sealed Railway Car”
     *Several poems may be found in the ODLE

Richter, Hans Peter. Friedrich.
     *Autobiographical novel by member of the Hitler Youth
     *Describes systematic, gradual persecution and murder of one Jewish family that author knew
     *Short length, comparatively simple language
     *Several chapters may be found in the ODLE

Sachs, Nelly. Collected Poems 1944-1949.
     *Poems by Jewish woman who fled to Sweden to survive
     *Poet became first Jewish woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
     *Includes famous poems, such as “O the Chimneys”

Senesh, Hannah. Her Life and Diary, The First Complete Edition.
     *Biography, essays, and poetry
     *Describes theme of Jewish resistance: a Jewish woman, as part of a small team of Jews that parachuted
     into Yugoslavia on a mission to save Hungary’s endangered Jews, is captured and executed
     *Includes famous poems, such as “Blessed is the Match”

Siegal, Aranka. Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944.
     *Survivor memoir
     *Describes ghetto
     *Narrative ends with deportation, so no camps are depicted for young readers
     *Newbery Honor Book
     *A few chapters may be found in the ODLE

Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness.
     *Survivor memoir with symposia
     *Has two parts: In the first, the survivor recounts his experience as a camp inmate who was asked for
     forgiveness by a dying SS officer; in the second, people from a variety of backgrounds provide brief
     responses offering thoughts on whether forgiveness should have been given.
     *While this is a highly engaging text to use with students, educators should take care never to frame the
     Holocaust or the survivor experience only in terms of forgiveness.
     *Several excerpts are available in the ODLE

Zapruder, Alexandra. Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust.
     *Anthology of firsthand accounts
 

SHORT LIST OF RECOMMENDED AUDIOVISUAL RESOURCES

Alma Rosé: A Tribute with the Ranana Symphonette Orchestra, 2016.
     *Israeli television news story about Gustav Mahler’s niece, who served as Kapo for the women’s orchestra
     in Auschwitz, where she was killed
     *Music teachers may find this of interest
     *3 minutes
     *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXc4h4Pw0QY

Birthplace, directed by Pawel Lozinski, 1992.
     *Subtitled Polish documentary film
     *Features survivor who returns to Poland decades after the war to find out what happened to his father
     and baby brother
     *47 minutes
     * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCzK8xAcAk0

Blessed is the Match, directed by Roberta Grossman, 2010.
     *American documentary film
     *Features the story of Hannah Senesh, who was part of a small team of Jews that parachuted into
     Yugoslavia on a mission to save Hungary’s endangered Jews; she was captured and executed, but her
     poems are widely read
     *Appropriate for middle school
     *86 minutes

Bogdan’s Journey, directed by Michael Jaskulski, 2016.
     *Partly subtitled Polish American documentary film
     *Features a contemporary Catholic Pole who fights antisemitism through commemoration of the 1946
     Kielce pogrom against Holocaust survivors
     *90 minutes

Brundibar: How the Nazis Conned the World (60 Minutes story), 2007.
     *American television newsmagazine story featuring the story behind the children’s opera, Brundibar,
     which was written and performed in Terezín; the Nazis filmed the performance along with other art to
     convince outsiders that Jewish children were being treated well
     *Theater teachers may find this of interest
     *13 minutes
     *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnLnS9wv30w
     *https://www.cbsnews.com/news/brundibar-how-the-nazis-conned-the-world/2/

Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, directed by Daniel Anker, 2004.
     *American documentary film
     *92 minutes
     *Numerous clips may be found in the ODLE

Night and Fog, directed by Alain Resnais, 1956.
     *Subtitled French documentary film
     *Describes Nazi camps
     *32 minutes

A Night at the Garden, directed by Marshall Curry, 2017.
     *American documentary film
     *Employs archival footage of 1939 American Nazi rally
     *Appropriate for middle school
     *7 minutes

No Place on Earth, directed by Janet Tobias, 2013.
     *American documentary film
     *Survivors who hid in the world’s second-largest underground cavernous formation during the Holocaust
     return decades later to tell their story
     *The picture book, The Secret of Priest’s Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story, tells of the same family
     *Appropriate for middle school
     *83 minutes

One Survivor Remembers, directed by Kary Antholis, 1995.
     *American documentary film
     *Features interviews with Gerda Weissmann Klein, who survived concentration camps and a death march
     that are also described in the memoir, All But My Life
     *40 minutes
     *Opening images depict emaciated, naked corpses and should not be shown to middle school students
     *Entire film may be found in the ODLE

Sister Rose’s Passion, directed by Oren Jacoby, 2004.
     *American documentary film
     *Features interviews with Sister Rose Thering, who fought antisemitism and influenced the Vatican’s
     Nostra aetate proclamation
     *Educators in Catholic schools may find this of particular interest
     *39 minutes

Watchers of the Sky, directed by Edet Belzberg, 2014.
     *American documentary film
     *Features interviews with numerous people and especially highlights the story of Raphael Lemkin, who
     coined the term, genocide; other genocides are featured
     *Narrated by Samantha Power, whose lengthy book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of
     Genocide
, received the Pulitzer Prize; Power later served as US Ambassador to the UN
     *Numerous clips may be found in the ODLE
     *120 minutes

Educators are also encouraged to locate online survivor testimonies, especially through the multiple museum websites and USC Shoah Foundation links above.