Note: Before you begin teaching this unit, we recommend that you visit the site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They have developed helpful guidelines for approaching and presenting this sensitive, complex subject matter. Their Resource Book for Educators can be downloaded as a pdf file and includes a comprehensive history, chronology, bibliography and videoography.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in the camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever…Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." "Night "
The film Elie Wiesel: First Person Singular is about one man's passionate resolve to bear witness for the millions of people who suffered and perished in the Holocaust. He has been sustained by his faith and guided by his belief in the power of language and the value of teaching.
9 - 12
Language Arts; History
learn about and be able to define the Holocaust
read, evaluate and discuss Holocaust-related literature
ask and discuss difficult questions about hatred, evil and intolerance
bear witness to an event from their own lives
conduct Internet research.
write essays, journal entries and letters
undertake a project, where they make a contribution to the community
learn about other human rights activists
Students' writing journals
Copies of Night, by Elie Wiesel
Library copies of Holocaust literature and pieces referred to in the activities
1. Write the word Holocaust on the board. Have students say words that come into their minds and write down their responses.
2. Ask students: What do you know about the Holocaust? Where did you learn it? What literature of the Holocaust have you already read? What people have you met, movies have you seen, stories have you heard? Do you have a personal connection with someone who experienced the Holocaust? Do you want to know more about this subject? Why or why not?
3. Depending on what students already know, you might share the definition from Teaching About the Holocaust: A Resource Book for Teachers, which can be downloaded from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site. If possible, invite someone to your class who can share a personal story related to the Holocaust. It could be a survivor, the child of a survivor, someone involved in recording oral histories or a historian doing research on the subject. Have students prepare questions before the guest comes. In the following session, give students a chance to discuss issues and questions that may have been inspired by the speaker.