January 27 commemorates Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day. Holocaust Memorial Day is remembered on Jan. 27 because it is the day which the Russians liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland. An estimated 6 million Jewish people died in what Heinrich Himmler of Hitler’s third Reich called the Final Solution to the “Jewish Problem” in WWII.
This final solution was part of Hitler’s envisioned plan of ethnic cleansing. or the removal of a group of people of a certain nationality. It entailed the systematic repression, containment in ghettos, transport to extermination camps and mass slaughter of anyone with Jewish nationality. The term genocide has been applied to this type of wholesale murder; genocide refers to the killing of an entire genus or population. Holocaust is a Biblical term from the Torah and the Old Testament referring to a large burnt offering in expiation for sin. Sadly, the term paints an all-too-vivid picture of demise of the Hebrew people in WWII.
When January 27 falls on a Sunday, the observance of this most significant event should be marked in schools during this following week. Here is some material and websites to explore for lesson plan preparation. These sites can help raise student awareness of the history of WWII and specifically the WWII Nazi holocaust of the Jewish people of Europe. Unfortunately the cancer spot of the Nazi party in history has not always been exposed in education as it should be.
Teachers may fear that images and information about such atrocities in WWII will damage children’s’ minds or frighten them. Certainly at very young ages, educators need to exercise caution about how we educate. Ironically, children in this generation have been exposed already to an extensive amount of material, much of it misinformation and propaganda. In 2007, our third grade daughter was harassed by a fellow student because our last name is very German. He told her he hated all Germans because Hitler was German (Hitler was an Austrian to be precise) and Germans killed Jews. She was horrified. We reassured her that her ancestors came over to America well before WWII.
It is easy to say, well he’s just a little kid, but when children are raised in ignorance, they breed it. Our daughter is young too and we have an obligation to train her. We have always taught our children to fight against injustice, especially for those who cannot protect themselves. It is our duty as educators to inform and speak the truth, to correct wrong information and make a move right injustice with education.
Here are some websites with information, lesson plans and printable materials to guide your students in their understanding of Jewish Holocaust.
Jewish Holocaust Memorial much of the site is written in Yiddish, but is navigable by speakers of English. The National Holocaust Museum offers virtual tours, Holocaust art, memorials and online guides. This is the museum in the United States. Yad Vashem is the Jewish Holocaust Memorial located in Jerusalem. The Holocaust Memorial Center shows lovely imagery and plays lovely music sung in Yiddish to accompany the virtual museum tour. The American Jewish Committee offers free information and materials also. In closing, Requiem in Pace. friends.