In the face of tragic disregard for human life and dignity, how did/can individuals maintain their humanity and still sacrifice for the good of others?
Three Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
- define oral history, describe its advantages and disadvantages, and explain its importance to overall history.
- evaluate the importance of the “final solution” to Hitler’s plans for Lebensraum.
- demonstrate how countless acts of inhumanity can minimize self-esteem in the oppressed yet bring out heroic acts of selflessness toward others.
- explain why it is important for the story of the Holocaust to be told.
Prior to teaching this lesson, because of the sensitive nature of the topic and some of the images contained in this film, teachers are encouraged to consider sending the Letter to Families/Guardians (Attachment Two) home with the students, giving the adult family members an opportunity to preview the film and discuss it with their child.
Put the term “oral history” on the board or overhead. Ask the learners to define it and give examples of history that have been handed down through this medium. (During the 1930s and 1940s the oral interviews of the Federal Writers Project documented the ways ordinary people were coping with the Great Depression. Griots [gree-o] in West Africa were known as chroniclers of every event in their villages. They witnessed and mentally recorded the deeds of every person which they passed down through time to other griots as oral history.)
Video: Part One — Pre War to Slave Labor Camps (29 minute segment):
Reflection: T. S. Eliot is quoted: “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Tova and Frieda went to the camps as children the first time. When they returned as adults, they learned to know the place for the first time. How was this possible?
Video: Part Two — Auschwitz (32 minute segment):
Reflection: Frieda remembers January 27, 1945, when the Soviets arrived and liberated the camp, as her “second” birthday. She said it was more important to her than her first birthday. Why does she feel that way?
Video: Part Three — After the War (27 minute segment):
Thinking Through the Enduring Ideas
Frieda said, “I hope that, in some way, this story, through its horrors, will deter some of the anger, prejudice, hatred so that no other mother or father would have to go through this with their children. I hope that my children and grandchildren, nobody’s children or grandchildren, will ever have to go through anything like that.” She also asks us to “pray that this does not happen to any children any more in this world.” Reflect on Frieda’s hope and the experiences the two survivors experienced in their early years. Evaluate the importance of Frieda and Tova’s story with those who view this film. What attitudes and behaviors of others might be influenced through the sharing of their story?
Because of the sensitive nature of the topic and some of the images contained in this film, adult family members are urged to preview the film, or view and discuss it with their child. A sample letter for Families is included, Letter to Families/Guardians (Attachment Two).
Lesson Developed By:Evelyn Nash
During World War II, the Nazis killed six million Jews — men, women and children — from all over Europe. At least one million Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of Hitler’s concentration camps. In mid-January 1945, as Soviet forces approached Auschwitz, the SS began evacuating the camp, force-marching 60,999 prisoners to Germany. About a fourth died from starvation and exposure or were shot by the SS for falling behind.
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and found 7,000 prisoners alive. Among them were two young children from Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, a town in central Poland. Tova Friedman, 6, and Frieda Tenenbaum, 10, had not only survived the Jewish ghetto in their town but had also lived through two slave labor camps. Now, thanks to their Soviet liberators, they even survived the Kinderlager, the children’s camp at Auschwitz, which in reality was a holding area for the gas chambers.
Using videotaped testimony from the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and other sources, [this film] documents the story of these survivors as they progressed through the Nazi system, starting with the Tomaszow ghetto, then the labor camps, and finally Auschwitz. The program [includes] Soviet-produced archival film of their liberation from Auschwitz, as well as wartime photographs of Auschwitz, Tomaszow and other sites, plus pre- and post-war family photographs.
On-location filming at Tomaszow, the two labor camps (Starachowice and Blizyn) and Auschwitz in the program’s epilogue show the survivors revisiting these sites with their children and reflecting on the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust 60 years later. While their story is one of tragedy and horror, their message is one of tolerance and hope.
*Shoah: “catastrophe”; the Holocaust
Your child will be viewing Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah, a ninety minute video. The program follows the experiences of a six and a ten-year-old girl who survived the Holocaust to be liberated from Auschwitz. The film includes on-location present-day views of their home town Tomaszow, two labor camps and Auschwitz. The two survivors will be shown revisiting these sites with their adult children and reflecting on the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust sixty years later. While their story is one of tragedy and horror, their message is one of tolerance and hope.
Because some of the historic footage that will be shown may be disturbing, it is possible for adult family members/guardians to preview the film with or without their student. We encourage either of these to occur.
If you would be interested in seeing the film before or during the time it is shown, please contact us at ___________________________________________ to make arrangements for the showing. We look forward to working with you to make this a meaningful experience for our youth.
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.