In 5th grade, my teacher Miss Larson read us the book Snow Treasure and I was hooked. Without giving too much away, the story tells the tale of children smuggling gold bullion to safety on their sleds, right under the noses of the Nazis. The more we learned about World War II, the more I struggled to understand our human capacity for cruelty. In college, I continued my quest for understanding by studying groupthink, confirmation bias, and the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy, all three of which provide some explanation about human nature.
The well-known saying goes, “those who do not understand history, are doomed to repeat it,” and this Instagram post includes examples of how anti-semitism is making a terrifying comeback:
As teachers, we know our responsibility is to educate students so they don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. With the rise of anti-semitism, we believe there is no better time to share resources for teaching about the Holocaust, anti-semitism, and fascism. It is our hope you will be able to use the resources to teach about the impact of hate, prejudice, and oppression.
Steven Speilberg’s life’s work was to visually archive testimony from survivors of the Holocaust. With over 55,000 recordings in 44 languages from 65 countries, the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California, has over 115,000 hours of indexed, searchable content that can be used by anyone interested in learning and teaching about the Holocaust and genocide. This video describes the archives and emphasizes the impact of teaching about intolerance and racial hatred:
This video from the Shoah Foundation’s “Teaching with Testimony,” page explains ways to silence hate and amplify the voices of those who give humanity courage.
The link above takes you directly to the list of resources on the homepage where you will see the statement, “Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.” The site is loaded with lessons, videos, and information to help educators teach about the impact of bigotry and hatred. The website includes tips for discussing difficult topics in the lesson, “Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations.”
Formerly known as Teaching Tolerance, the Learning for Justice website includes grade specific lessons about the Holocaust. This website includes a gold mine of resources that can be easily applied to your classroom curriculum.
Learning Plan: The Holocaust Grades 3-5
Hatred and the Holocaust Grades 6-8
Visiting this museum is a life-changing experience. Until you’re able to travel to DC, spend time on the website which is ripe with resources to support teaching and learning about the Holocaust. To find teaching resources on the website, click “teach.”
Examples of the resources at ushmm.org:
The goal of Echoes & Reflections is to “confidently teach about the Holocaust.” The site includes webinars, professional development, and even a state-by-state Holocaust education legislation interactive map for you to see what type of Holocaust education is required in your state.
Documentarian Ken Burns is known for his films like Hiding in Plain Site, The Central Park 5, and Jackie Robinson. On the PBS website linked above, you will see media galleries, individual videos, and documents for grades 6-8 and 9-12 to teach about the U.S. involvement in WWII and the Holocaust. Each gallery is organized by different war issues such as: anti-semitism, immigration, and Nazi-Fascist ideology. The PBS Learning Media site includes resources on other topics as well.
Just like the name suggests, the ADL works to address anti-semitism by providing at-your-fingertips lesson plans, tools, and strategies.
Bryan Stevenson created EJI with the missions of criminal justice reform, racial & economic justice, and ensuring the most vulnerable in our society have basic human rights. Stevenson’s work includes the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, each of which provide resources for teaching and learning about the legacy of slavery, incarceration, and racism. One article on the EJI site is, “Jewish Community Sues to Stop Arizona Executions by Cyanide Gas Used in the Holocaust,” highlighting the never-ending work of fighting against anti-semitism and racism.
There is nothing like connecting to characters in a good book. The recommendations below include ages/grade levels so you can select appropriate books for your students.
“Holocaust Books for Children,” from the Jewish Book Council
“Holocaust Books for Middle Grade Readers,” from the Jewish Book Council
“Holocaust Books for Young Adults,” from the Jewish Book Council
“Children’s Books,” from the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum
“Books about the Holocaust” from Common Sense Media
“13 Gripping Books that Teach about the Holocaust,” from We Are Teachers
We know films are powerful storytellers! As you review the lists, be sure to check the appropriate age/grade levels.
“List of Recommended Holocaust Films,” from the Jewish Heritage Center
“Movies and Documentaries about Fascism,” from Intercultural Action
“The U.S. and the Holocaust,” from PBS
We hope these resources will support the work you do teaching about the Holocaust, anti-semitism, fascism, and so much more. Thank you for the work you do for children and families.