Teaching Holocaust Memorial Day



No doubt, it is critical to teach our children about history; but it is so hard to teach them about the realities of history.  As a teacher, it is difficult to find the lessons that will build the stories and voices who have been silenced; as a mother, it is difficult to teach the lessons without holding my children with my arms, close to me as I read the words.


WWII happened such a long time ago, its atrocities can blend in with sinister tales of werewolves and dark forests that seem fuzzy on details, and are unfathomable to believe.  But the sinister tales were more real than the Black Forest of Germany, and the villains had names engraved on their office doors.

It is difficult for kids, let alone ourselves, to understand the depth of horror the world was in during that time, from the Depression in America, to the ghettos of Europe, to the Concentration Camps to the Atomic Bomb…

how could any of these things seem real, when we are sitting in our living room today?  Safely reading about the holocaust without worrying about being captured, let alone killed.  Lunch is at noon, and we are having leftover spaghetti.  My daughter asked for a glass of milk in the middle of the lesson, and I was able to give it to her.  The conversations over lunch were regarding how to defeat Sandman in the Lego video game.


For parents, it is difficult to find the balance of how much to teach different ages of children.  It certainly took me a while to sort through so much invaluable material available.

Here are some of what we have used today.

1. The Importance of Knowledge, And Why We Learn

  • Nazi Party


  • Book Burnings



2. Holocaust Memorials Around The World


Holocaust Memorials Around the World



3. The Holocaust From 5th Grade Perspective

holohd.jpg (7022 bytes)

From a 5th Grade Perspective


4. Lesson Plans for Poetry

First They Came For The Jews / Martin Niemöller

First They Came For The Jews / Martin Niemöller. Artwork: Liz Elsby

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller: Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian, born in Germany in 1892. Originally a supporter of Hitler’s policies, he eventually opposed them. He was arrested and eventually confined in the concentration Sachsenhausen and Dachau camps. He was liberated by the allies in 1945 and continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a noted pacifist.”

5. “Night Will Fall” Tonight at 10:30 on HBO

“The HBO documentary “Night Will Fall” is a movie about the Holocaust, a movie about remembering the Holocaust and primarily, at least in formal terms, a movie about a movie. It may not do full justice to all these subjects in its tight 78 minutes, but it’s not a film you’re likely to forget…

““Night Will Fall,” directed by André Singer (and making its television premiere on HBO on Monday), tells the story of “Factual Survey,” incorporating archival and current interviews with people involved in its making. It also fills out the story of how the British, American and Soviet cameramen documented the unbelievable scenes that the liberating troops found, and includes touching sequences in which soldiers and camp inmates who appear in the old footage describe their horrific experiences seven decades ago.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s