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. In the tabs below, the THGC has sought to assemble a variety of tips and materials that readily align with different subject matters, intelligences, and teaching styles.
All Schools: SB 1828 calls on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to develop or approve all materials that will be used in Texas classrooms during Holocaust Remembrance Week. The THGC's Holocaust Remembrance Week page provides educators with an assortment of options regarding materials to use. Please contact the THGC's office for any necessary clarification, suggestions, or guidance.
Effective instruction on the Holocaust must provide historical context, which necessarily involves the study of antisemitism. Educators are advised to visit the THGC's page on antisemitism; the page's content is approved for use during Holocaust Remembrance Week. However, students should be introduced to the themes of who the Jews are and what Judaism is before any Holocaust instruction occurs. Otherwise, students will be inclined to perceive Jews as natural and inevitable targets of persecution. (This might mean presenting a lesson on the Jews before teaching Holocaust history or Holocaust literature.)
Elementary Schools: SB 1828
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 are advised to choose their own
materials that cover broader themes. These include:
Responsible citizenship (being an upstander)
Who the Jews are (This way, when Holocaust instruction occurs in the upper grades, it is not the students' first introduction to Jews or Judaism. This is key to making sure that students do not perceive Jewish identity solely through the lens of victimization.)
Middle Schools & High Schools: 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.
Middle school and high school educators should be sure to offer clear instruction on these subjects:
What the Holocaust was (including the definition; see below)
How the Nazis singled out the Jews for total annihilation and spread the lie that the killing of every Jewish man, woman, and child was essential to the world's salvation
How antisemitism is a danger that reflects a psychological and spiritual illness in a society
How the Holocaust signifies a breakdown of ethics, such as the devaluation of human life, which was necessary so that even the most educated people would support or participate in the killing process
How the Holocaust began in a society in which individuals and groups failed to protect the rights of minorities (Jews, Roma/Sinti, homosexuals, etc.) and democratic institutions (legislature, courts, free press, truthful instruction in schools, etc.)
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 (Gypsies), 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. International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) released in October 2020 its working definition of antigypsyism.
Educators should make sure to convey that, while some similarities exist, the Holocaust was not identical to other genocides, just as they are not identical to one another.
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
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, Lesson Plans, and Links" tab below as you develop a curriculum that works best in your classroom.
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.
Help Is Available:
Contact THGC Director of Education Dr. J.E. Wolfson with any questions. Also, consider inviting our team 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.)
Using Social Media:
You are encouraged to share your classroom successes on social media under the hashtag #TexasHRW and are welcome to tag the THGC with @TxHGC.
2021 Keynote Speaker:
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. You can now view and share Part I & Part II of the interview with your students.
Please complete this feedback form once you have completed your Holocaust Remembrance Week activities. Please encourage your students to complete the form, as well.
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. All materials featured on this page are approved for Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Short List of Recommended Lesson Plans for 2021:
Texas educators are neither limited nor required
to teach the lessons on this list. If you are looking for user-friendly
lesson plans from the organizations listed on this page, here are some great
selections. (You are also free to choose other lesson plans from the organizations listed on this page.)
Recommended Lesson Plans from 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. Lesson Plans: Echoes & Reflections
The THGC is aware that there are numerous available resources on the
Holocaust. Seeking to give educators a range of choices, the THGC has
created certain materials and approved others, many of which present
firsthand accounts. Also, the THGC has restricted 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
listed 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.
Resources by the THGC:
All THGC-created materials are recommended for
classroom instruction in Holocaust Remembrance Week. The following
resources that have been developed by the THGC are available for use.
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. *Most materials in the ODLE
are designed to be easily inserted into lessons that you teach. For
example, one of the short videos might be used to illustrate a theme
presented in one of the lesson plans above. *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.).
El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center EPHM offers free bilingual programs and resources for students and educators, including in-person tours, off-site or virtual presentations, education trunks of classroom resources, and educator workshops. EPHM’s website also houses oral testimonies searchable by topic of local Holocaust survivors. Coming spring 2021, EPHM will offer an interactive virtual tour of its permanent exhibit with companion resources and survivor testimonies for each gallery.
Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio The museum has developed a wide array of resources and a special week of programming during Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week to help South Texas schools fulfill the educational mandates set by the state, including teacher workshops (three during Holocaust Remembrance Week), educational trunks, traveling exhibits, as well as prerecorded and live virtual presentations on the topic of instilling in the students, educators, and general audience Elie Wiesel’s message that “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Yad Vashem The
largest Holocaust museum in the world offers extensive databases on
survivors, victims, and rescuers. Yad Vashem designates the Righteous
Among the Nations. There are also outstanding video clips on various
subjects, including teaching the Holocaust using sports and through children in hiding. Links to specific Yad Vashem lesson plans are featured above.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum The largest concentration camp and killing center is now a museum and memorial that offers publications and holds conferences.
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
Resources by Other Organizations:
Facing History and Ourselves For educators looking for a fully mapped out week-long unit, Facing History offers one. Additionally, see above for a couple of outstanding lesson plan options.
German Propaganda Archive This Michigan-based university website provides an extensive online collection of Nazi anti-Jewish materials from before and during the Holocaust.
Texas Liberators 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.
USC Shoah Foundation This California-based institution is most famous for its extensive collection of survivor video testimonies.
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
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 can be viewed here (Part I) and here (Part II)
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.
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; view here.
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; view here.
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; view here.
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 Minutesstory), 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; view here; also view here
European Antisemitism from Its Origins to the Holocaust, USHMM, 2021. American documentary film; presents an overview on the growth of hatred and persecution of the Jewish people; 14 minutes; view here.
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
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
Part I: Interview with Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth: Child Holocaust Survivor & Scholar, 2021. Interview conducted by Dr. J.E. Wolfson and Dr. David A. Patterson for 2021 Holocaust Remembrance Week in Texas. Interview filmed and edited by Christian Acevedo. Part I covers Zsuzsi's childhood in Hungary, hiding, and her rescuer. View here.
Part II: Interview with Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth: Child Holocaust Survivor & Scholar, 2021. Interview conducted by Dr. J.E. Wolfson and Dr. David A. Patterson for 2021 Holocaust Remembrance Week in Texas. Interview filmed and edited by Christian Acevedo. Part II covers scholarship on poet/Holocaust victim Miklós Radnóti and what Holocaust education should look like. View here.
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; view here.
The Path to Nazi Genocide, USHMM, 2014. American documentary film; features the rise of Nazism and Hitler, as well as its impact on Jews; 39 minutes; view here.
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 in the "RECOMMENDED Resources, Lesson Plans, and Links" tab above.
Holocaust Remembrance Week Feedback Forms
Educator Feedback Form on Holocaust Remembrance Week