Holocaust Remembrance Week
January 25 - 29, 2021
The second annual Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week will take place from January 25 - January 29, 2021.
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 27th 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.
In shaping Holocaust Remembrance Week implementation in schools, 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 10 guidelines before offering any instruction on the Holocaust. First among the guidelines is the necessity of clearly defining the Holocaust when engaging students.
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
(Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Other Victims of the Nazis:
The Nazis also persecuted Roma, the disabled, Poles, political opponents, Socialists, Communists, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, Soviet civilians, and blacks.
(Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
By clearly teaching this definition, educators are better positioned to avoid the problematic trend of de-Judaizing the Holocaust.
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; he coined the term, Porajmos, to refer to the Nazi persecution and mass murder of the Roma. Doris Bergen’s War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust also includes several pages on the Roma.
Other Genocides in History:
Educators wishing to extend lessons to include other genocides may look to resources on the THGC website (Overviews, Vocabulary, Guidelines for Teaching About Genocide), as well as materials from outside organizations and museums listed on the "RECOMMENDED Resources, Links, and Lesson Plans" tab below.
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). (Register with your school e-mail account.)
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.
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.
The THGC is honored to support the design and implementation of Holocaust Remembrance Week across the state. We have worked hard to assemble a wide array of materials that can strengthen young people's grasp of a complex and disturbing subject. No one book, film, or resource on the Holocaust will be required for every classroom. Rather, you are free to choose from what is found on the "RECOMMENDED Resources, Links, and Lesson Plans" tab below as you develop a curriculum that works best in your classroom. Here are some ideas that can help in planning, especially for educators who are not sure how or where to begin.
- After reading through the "HOW to Teach About the Holocaust" tab above, you should then examine the many options for materials, lesson plans, readings, and audiovisual resources that are featured on tabs farther down on this page. We encourage you to consult with other educators on your campus to coordinate instruction.
- Contact THGC Director of Education Dr. J.E. Wolfson with any questions. Also, consider inviting us to be part of your instruction. We may be available to engage in a Q&A (on Zoom) or some other lesson format with your students during Remembrance Week. Please contact us about this as soon possible, as we have a small staff and expect our schedules to fill up. (All of our services are free.)
- You are encouraged to share your classroom successes on social media under the hashtag #TexasHRW and are welcome to tag the THGC with @TxHGC.
We invite you to show students a video program featuring this year's Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week keynote speaker, Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, who will talk about her experiences as a child survivor in Hungary, her memoirs, and her work as a Holocaust studies scholar in Texas. THGC Commissioner Dr. David Patterson and Director of Education Dr. J.E. Wolfson will conduct the Q&A. The link to view the program will be posted on the THGC website at the start of Remembrance Week, so the video can be shown at any point during the week.
- Please complete this feedback form once you have completed your Holocaust Remembrance Week activities. Please encourage your students to complete the form, as well.
- You are encouraged to include examples from your Remembrance Week planning and experiences when completing the 2020 Dr. Anna Steinberger Outstanding Educator Award application, which will be posted on the THGC website in December 2020. This award includes a $1,000 check made directly payable to one Texas educator.
NOTE: There is no expectation that classes need to cover all or even most of what is listed below. For some educators, it may be sufficient to choose one or two items to teach during this year's Remembrance Week. A good rule of thumb might be to add more of the materials each year for Remembrance Week.
Resources by the THGC:
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.
- Printable written overview of the Holocaust
- Printable written vocabulary materials Vocabulary List / Red Flag Terms
- Online Digital Library for Educators (ODLE)
*This is a password-protected collection of materials selected by the THGC. Registered educators may access materials for classroom use at no charge. Materials include essays, poems, book chapters and excerpts, films, and film clips.
*Educators of grades 6 – 12 who have not already registered for a free account with the ODLE may do so through the above link. When entering information, please include school e-mail (not Yahoo, gmail, etc.).
Resources by Other Organizations:
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.
Middle school and high school materials from the following organizations and museums are approved by the THGC. Most also provide educator training and support, and some present online survivor video testimonies of various lengths.
Echoes & Reflections
For educators looking for a fully mapped out unit, Echoes is an excellent option. Echoes consists of nine thorough lessons in sequence, and not all nine must be taught for the unit to be effective. In Texas, Anti-Defamation League and Yad Vashem provide Echoes training and support to educators.
Facing History and Ourselves
For educators looking for a fully mapped out week-long unit, Facing History offers one. Additionally, see below for a couple of outstanding lesson plan options.
This project was funded by the THGC and was developed by a team at Texas Tech University. This project includes a traveling exhibit, an online module (app), and a book that was provided to every high school library in the state. Social Studies courses covering Texas, the United States, or modern Europe may find it helpful.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
There are many valuable resources on the USHMM website. For example, music teachers might consider using the museum’s music database, and social studies teachers might teach using History Unfolded.
The Pucker Gallery
Features the art of ghetto survivor Samuel Bak; art teachers may find this of interest; some of Bak’s work may also be seen in person at Holocaust Museum Houston
Museums in Texas:
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center
Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio
Holocaust Museum Houston
Short List of Recommended Lesson Plans for 2021
Texas educators are neither limited to nor required to teach the lessons on this list. If you are looking for user-friendly lesson plans from the organizations listed above, here are some great selections. (You are also free to choose other lesson plans from the organizations above.)
Lesson Plan: Jewish Life Before the Holocaust (by FHAO)
Lesson Plan: History of Antisemitism and the Holocaust (by USHMM)
Lesson Plan: Lala - Reflections on Prejudice (by USC Shoah Foundation)
Lesson Plan: Teaching About the Perpetrators (by Yad Vashem)
Lesson Plan: Teaching About the Holocaust through Children's Diaries (by Yad Vashem)
Lesson Plan: Hiding (by USC Shoah Foundation)
Lesson Plan: US Newspapers and the Holocaust (by USHMM)
Lesson Plan: Hunger in the Łódź Ghetto (by USC Shoah Foundation)
Lesson Plan: Music as a Survival Tool (by FHAO)
Lesson Plan: Righteous Among the Nations: Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara (by Yad Vashem)
Here is a short list of readings that are appropriate for readers no younger than 14.
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 here.
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
United Nations. 2019 Report on Antisemitism. Released September 2019; read the report here.
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
Here is a short list of readings that are appropriate for readers no younger than 11.
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; NOTE: an interview with Ozsváth will be broadcast during Holocaust Remembrance Week
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
Educators should screen in advance anything shown to students to ensure appropriateness.
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 news magazine 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
The Courage to Care, directed by Robert Gardner, 1985. American documentary film; features interviews with rescuers and rescued; 29 minutes; https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/courage-care
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