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Lessons of the Holocaust and Prejudice Reduction


Below is an annotated list of materials, which I have found useful in my teaching of a semester elective for juniors and seniors on prejudice reduction/Holocaust studies.


The World Must Know by Michael Berenbaum is recommended for general knowledge and for an overview of the Holocaust. I stress beginning, as does this book, with the beauty of the life that was lost and ending with Israel as an independent Jewish nation. This is the primary text for my Prejudice Reduction/Holocaust Studies class.

Tell Them We Remember by Susan D. Bachrach is a shorter, more concise overview of the Holocaust.

Language in Thought and Action by S. I. Hayakawa is one of my three texts, and I use it for the chapters on prejudice. This is an excellent book that allows students to explore culture and body language as well as the spoken and written word.

Night by Eli Weisel is my third text. The beauty and the horror of survivor testimony fills this book. My students constantly refer back to it. I have also assigned it, with a great deal of success, for all seniors to read for their summer reading.

I recommend two texts for teaching the Holocaust through literature: Art from the Ashes by Dr. Lawrence L. Langer and Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo. Langer's book contains primary source documentation, including different forms of literary and historical writing. Delbo's book is told from a female, non-Jewish viewpoint.

There are many good survivor-testimony books, I usually use All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein. I also use the tape that goes with the book. If survivors who live in your area have written books, review these for appropriateness of content.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington by Jeshajhu Weinberg and Rina Elieli is good if you are taking students to the museum in Washington.

The two books I recommend for the teacher to read and use sections from to teach prejudice are The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon W. Allport and Race and Ethnic Conflict: Views on Prejudice, Discrimination and Ethnoviolence edited by Fred L. Pincus and Howard J. Ehrlich. The first is considered to be a classic text on prejudice, and the second gives you another perspective.


I strongly recommend four tapes: Triumph of the Spirit, Schindler's List, Survivors of the Holocaust, and Auschwitz: If You Cried You Died. Eight years ago, when I began giving my elective semester Holocaust course, my students insisted that I showed the first tape when we began our study of the Holocaust. I also use the segment of this tape that goes from the train station in Greece to roll call in the camp at my teacher training workshops because it presents the process of dehumanization better than anything else I have ever seen. After viewing Triumph of the Spirit, students are ready to see Schindler's List. Survivors of the Holocaust is built around survivor testimony. It consistently impresses my students. The fourth tape chronicles the return of Holocaust survivors to Poland. It is short and effective because it also deals with prejudice in today's world. I have used this tape in an assembly program for all of our 10th through 12th graders, and have observed the rapt attention of students for the entire tape. All four films can be shown in part or in their entirety.

Teacher Resources/Student Materials:

Facing History and Ourselves, published by the Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc., is very good for reading, including readings about Germany in the 1920s, the Nazi rise to power, escalating violence, and the Holocaust itself. It also includes important related areas that can be considered, including the individual's role in society, the us-vs.-them mentality, conformity and obedience, bystanders, and judgment. It ends with a section entitled "Choosing to Participate," which gives students ideas about and options for confronting issues that cause separation among people. Each reading is short and has a series of questions which provoke student analysis and connections to life today.

History of the Holocaust by Yehuda Bauer is an excellent book for information on the Holocaust by a leading, internationally known scholar on this topic. It includes very useable maps and charts.

Atlas of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert, also a leading scholar on the Holocaust, includes extremely useable and detailed maps, information, and pictures to teach the Holocaust.


"The Complete Maus" by Art Spiegleman includes six hours of survivor testimony from his father. This also appeals to students because of the difficult relationship between the son and his father. It is a companion to the texts Maus I and Maus II, which are presented in cartoon format.

"Yad Vashem presents Return to Life: The Story of the Holocaust Survivors" is an excellent resource for survivor testimony as well as a source of interactive, animated maps and charts. It also includes issues not always covered, along with links to other databases. Yad Vashem is a highly recognized and recommended source for Holocaust materials and resources.

"Survivors: Testimonies of the Holocaust" is a very useable resource covering deportation, arrival at Auschwitz, camp life, and survival. It was published by Steven Spielberg and The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, and is hosted by Leonardo Di Caprio and Winona Ryder.

Web Sites:

Four Web sites are excellent, the first three for studying the Holocaust and survivor testimony and the fourth for prejudice and tolerance:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Yad Vashem
USC Shoah Foundation


The New Jersey Holocaust curriculum for grades 9 through 12, entitled "The Holocaust and Genocide: The Betrayal of Mankind," is an excellent teacher-friendly resource of readings, teaching objectives, activities, questions, and suggested sources. It incorporates lessons for art and music as well as for social studies and English. It contains lessons utilizing maps, charts, CD-ROMs, films, and Web sites. The curriculum is divided into seven units covering: the nature of human behavior; views of prejudice and genocide; the rise of Nazism; the Holocaust; resistance, intervention and rescue; genocide; and related issues of conscience and moral responsibility. This curriculum, which has just been revised and updated, will be available this school year and will also be at the New Jersey Department of Education, Commission on Holocaust Education Web site.

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