Monday, January 17, 2011

January 27 Answer Guide

January 27 Answer Guide
This is a copy of the teacher's lesson guide with answers to several questions. The answers are in blue. These answers are included to provide ideas and direction for the educators, but feel free to expand and offer other responses within your classrooms.

Both the Jewish and secular calendars designate special memorial days for the victims of the Holocaust. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to mark January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In response to the UN resolution on Holocaust remembrance, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev said:

Aside from the symbolic importance of establishing an international day of remembrance for the Holocaust, the resolution acknowledges the perpetual need to teach the Holocaust. By adopting this resolution, the United Nations has expressed its awareness of the importance of remembering the Holocaust both as a value in itself and as an instrument for assuring the commitment to preserving humanity’s basic values.

Structure of the lesson:

• I. Background to the UN resolution

• II. Text and meaning of the resolution

• III. The particular and universal significance of the Holocaust

• IV. Conclusion

I. Background to UN Resolution 60/7, November 1, 2005

Why did the United Nations pass a resolution creating an international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust sixty years after liberation? UN Resolution 60/7 was adopted on November 1, 2005, during a period of both growing European awareness of the Holocaust and a troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

International awareness of the Holocaust has grown with time. When the UN resolution designating January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day was adopted, thirty-one countries had already established unique days of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust (most of them had chosen January 27). In addition, twenty-four countries had already joined an international task force established by Sweden in 1998 for the advance of Holocaust education, commemoration, and research. Many international agencies, including the European Council, also noted the need for a special memorial day for the Holocaust.

Although international consensus has long agreed on the necessity of Holocaust education, the history of Nazi collaborators among European nations made Holocaust remembrance a fraught issue complicated by debate over responsibility and guilt. Holocaust educators have responded by incorporating the legacy of collaboration into efforts to understand the impact of the Holocaust on our collective pasts. The UN resolution declaring International Holocaust Remembrance Day was intended to shift debates about contested issues of collective guilt to a global educational endeavor of learning from past cultural and religious intolerances as a means of bettering the future.

Why was the day when the Red Army entered Auschwitz chosen specifically as the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust?

January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Germans established Auschwitz in June 1940 as a concentration camp for Poles. In 1942 the Germans decided to expand the camp and send Jews there as well. Jewish inmates were first from nearby Silesia and Slovakia and soon afterwards from all over Europe. Many industrial German firms established factories around the camp to profit from the slave labor that the camp prisoners provided. In March 1942 a much larger side camp, Auschwitz II, otherwise known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, was opened to accommodate the growing numbers of prisoners and carry out Nazi plans. The new facility included gas chambers. Auschwitz, apart from being a massive concentration camp where the Germans subjected Jews to grueling labor and dire oppression, also became a center for the industrialized murder of European Jewry.

By the middle of January 1945, the Soviet army had launched an offensive and advanced toward Kraków and Auschwitz, prompting the Nazis to retreat hastily. Some 58,000 prisoners, most of them Jews, were led out of Auschwitz in “death marches” west toward Germany. Most of the prisoners were killed as they marched.

Red Army soldiers entered Auschwitz in the early afternoon of January 27, 1945. There they found 7,650 ill and frail prisoners and the bodies of 600 inmates whom the Nazis had murdered hours earlier. The Nazis’ frantic retreat left no opportunity to search for each prisoner or plunder the warehouses storing the property stolen from victims. In those warehouses the Soviets found piles of suitcases, clothing, eyeglasses, and other personal effects that the Nazis had gathered for shipment to Germany. These traces of the Nazis’ crimes became iconic images of the murder industry at Auschwitz. In the decades following liberation, Auschwitz came to epitomize the entire Nazi murder operation. The sheer number of victims and the diversity of prisoners from nearly every nationality in Europe made the camp a quintessential symbol of Nazi atrocity.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the largest cemetery in human history. Nearly 1.2 million Jews—men, women, and children—were murdered in the gas chambers of Birkenau. Almost one-fourth of all Jews murdered in World War II perished in Auschwitz. Of 405,000 registered inmates who received Auschwitz numbers, only around 65,000 survived. According to estimates, at least 1,500,000 human beings lost their lives at Birkenau.

II. Text and Meaning of the Resolution

Group discussion—what is the significance of the UN resolution to dedicate an international memorial day to the victims of the Holocaust on January 27? On January 27th Auschwitz was liberated. Auschwitz was the death camp with the highest number of people who were murdered; at least 1,500,000 people died in Auschwitz. Auschwitz epitomized the entire Nazi murder operation. The number of victims and the diversity of prisoners made the camp a quintessential symbol of Nazi atrocity. The day of liberation shows the defeat of the Nazis in their efforts to murder all of their opponents. The significance of the UN creating this day as a day of remembrance highlights world awareness of the Holocaust and the need to remember this Event.

Divide students into groups of three, each of which studies the following worksheet:

Below are three main sections of the United Nations resolution designating January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

What, in your opinion, is the resolution’s central statement?

The resolution’s central statement is to remember and educate about the Holocaust in order to keep people from committing such atrocities again.

How does the resolution encourage thinking about the Holocaust in a new light?

The resolution encourages thinking about the Holocaust in a new light by focusing on the need to educate about the Holocaust and condemning any acts against people based on race or religion, which led to the extremism within the Third Reich. The resolution focuses on the more universal implications of the Holocaust and the threat of similar beliefs and/or actions.

• [The UN] urges Member States to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide

• [The UN] rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or part;

• [The UN] condemns without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.

III. The Holocaust: Separating its Particularistic and its Universalistic Meanings

Why was an international memorial day established specifically for the Holocaust? Is the Holocaust unique? What is the universal significance of the Holocaust?

Distribute the following text and ask students to underline key passages that, in their opinion, answer the following question: Why is it important to establish an international memorial day specifically for the Holocaust? (the quotes are underlined and italic)

Professor Yehuda Bauer wrote:

For the first time in history, people who were descendants of three or four specific grandparents—Jewish ones in this case—were condemned to death for the mere fact that they had been born. This act, having been born, was the capital crime that had to be avenged by execution. Such a thing had not yet happened anywhere on earth. Second, it had to reach every individual of Jewish origin anywhere within Nazi Germany’s sphere of influence, meaning the whole world ... The murder of the Jews was not aimed at German Jews or Polish Jews or even European Jews but against all seventeen million Jews who lived anywhere in the world in 1939. All other cases of murder took place in a certain territory, admittedly sometimes a very large one. The murder of the Jews was practiced everywhere; it was universal.

Yehuda Bauer, “The Holocaust: the Particularistic and the Universalistic,” in Cultural Education in a Multicultural Society—Issues in Advanced Teacher Training, No. 9 (Jerusalem: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Education, Advanced Teacher Training Department, 2000, in Hebrew), pp. 161–162.

In another article, Professor Bauer continued:

When we begin to know what actually happened, when, by whom, and what the victims’ reactions were, we are ready for the first question, still within the core: why should we deal with the Holocaust at all? Why should we have special memorial days for that event? Why should we devote valuable school time to deal with it? The answer is that we deal with it because it was the most extreme form of genocidal killing until then and arguably until today. Extreme, not because of the suffering of the victims; the suffering of victims of mass atrocities is always the same. There is no gradation of suffering, and Jews did not suffer more or less than Tutsi in Rwanda, Fur in Darfur, Khmer in Cambodia, or Russians, American Indians, or anyone else in situations of mass murder. Why then talk about the Holocaust as an extreme case? Let me put it this way: when you examine the elements that went into any genocidal situations at any time in history, you will always find similar elements in some other genocide, including the Holocaust.

However, in the case of the Holocaust, there are elements that one simply cannot find in genocides that preceded it. There are quite a number of these, but let me mention just a few: to start with, there was no precedent for a state-organized genocide where every single person of the targeted group as defined not by the individuals concerned but by the perpetrators was to be identified, marked, humiliated, dispossessed, concentrated, transported, and killed, everywhere on earth. Furthermore, the ideology that served as a motivation for the Holocaust had nothing at all to do with the real Jews. In all other genocides that I am aware of, behind the ideological rationalizations there always was the economic, social, political, and/or military background. Not so with the genocide of the Jews. Nazi ideology spoke of a world Jewish conspiracy, of the control by Jews of both capitalism and Bolshevism, a conspiracy out to control the world – a mirror image of what the Nazis themselves wanted to do—a nightmarish fabrication.

List the students’ choices of key sentences on the blackboard.

In Professor Yehuda Bauer’s opinion, why should everyone study the Holocaust?

According to Professor Yehuda Bauer, everyone should study the Holocaust because of its unprecedented nature. The Nazis’ plan to ‘identify, mark, humiliate, dispossess, concentrate, transport and kill’ all the Jews on earth was a new manifestation of mass murder and genocide. This process was a key aspect of this specific Holocaust. Nazis took racial ideology to an extreme and created a world Jewish conspiracy theory in order to create the “other.” The lack of evident background and other motivations to support Nazi ideology also separates it from other genocides.

Next, explore the universal message of the Holocaust implicit in the following poem written by Holocaust survivor Dan Pagis. Ask the students to read the poem in pairs and answer the questions that follow it.

Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car

Dan Pagis

Translated from Hebrew by T. Carmi

Here, in this carload, I, Eve,

With my son Abel. If you see

my older boy, Cain, the son of Adam, tell him that I

Taken from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, edited and translated by T. Carmi (New York, 1981), p. 575

• Why do you think Dan Pagis chose Adam, Eve, and their sons for this poem?

Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel make up the first Biblical family and represents human relations. Eve is in the carload by herself with her son Abel (without Adam). Cain is described as the Son of Adam, which has an additional meaning. In Hebrew, Adam also means a human being, which suggests that Pagis is referring to Cain, the murderer, as a human being. Cain murdering his brother is the first murder in the Bible and represents the foundation of betrayal among people. The Holocaust is the extreme, massive modern interpretation of that first killing. Using these Biblical characters is symbolic, universal and sends a message to the reader that he now needs to confront old and new questions about the nature of man and its ability to overcome and heal after such a betrayal by one human to another.

What is the role of each character?

Adam represents the father of mankind emphasizing the origins of human nature. Eve represents the mother who was placed in difficult roles between saving herself or her children as well as the roles of women during the Holocaust. Abel represents the Jews who were persecuted throughout history. Cain represents the evil within each person. Notice that not all four people are present. Adam, the first human being, is absent and we don’t know where he is in such times. Only Eve and Abel, the victims, are present.

• Is the poem unfinished?

The poem is unfinished; it stops in the middle of a sentence.

• Try reading the poem in a loop over and over. What feeling does it prompt?

Reading the poem in a loop over and over gives the poem a cyclical pattern and adds meaning to the poem. You can read the poem over and over again. It is representative of the ongoing trauma that does not stop.

• Eve appears to be attempting to convey a message to Cain. What might that message be?

There is no one message in the poem. The poem ends abruptly as Eve says “tell him that I…” We do not know why the poem ends this way but we can speculate: maybe she was too weak to write, or she was caught, or she was murdered. Pagis ended the poem this way, which leaves the reader with unanswered questions left up to individual interpretation.

Suggestion: Post an enlarged copy of the poem in the classroom and ask students to complete the last verse. Discuss whether Eve’s message is a universal message about the Holocaust?”

Dan Pagis was born in 1930 in Romania. In 1934 his father immigrated to Palestine on his own in order to prepare a home for his family. Pagis’s mother died suddenly that same year, leaving Pagis to be raised by his maternal grandparents. Following the Nazi invasion, Pagis was deported with his family to a concentration camp in Transnistria, from which he escaped.

Having survived the war, Pagis returned to his home together with his grandmother. In 1946 he immigrated to Palestine as part of the Youth Aliyah program and joined a youth group at Kibbutz Merhavia. In Israel, Pagis began an academic career, joining the faculty of the Hebrew University in 1976 as a professor of Hebrew literature. Pagis published six collections of poetry and a children’s book. He died at age fifty-six in Jerusalem. His poem “Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car” appears at the rail car memorial at Yad Vashem and is inscribed in the monument at the Bełżec memorial site in Poland.

In 1995, at a conference titled “Polish Memory—Jewish Memory,” Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and a delegate to the ghetto’s Jewish Fighting Organization, said:

You have to remember what the Holocaust was. It wasn’t a Jewish matter. It wasn’t a matter of a few hundred or a few thousand collaborators, or of a few hundred Germans who murdered with their own hands. It was a matter of Europe and its civilization, which created the death factories. The Holocaust is the failure of civilization and the disaster did not end in 1945.

How do Edelman’s remarks reflect or complement the messages of Pagis’s poem?

Edelman’s remarks emphasize the universalistic nature of the Holocaust and the role of mankind in the Shoah. Both Edelman and Pagis state that the Holocaust is in a way the foundation of modern humanity. The question of “how was it humanly possible?” cannot be easily answered. What happened during the Holocaust undermined the basic understanding of humanistic values in modern times. Doctors, law professors, and educated people engaged in mass murder, while at the same time peasants could save Jews. The mirror of the convictions of the 20th century, tying together enlightenment and humanistic values, was shattered. Questions after the Holocaust are much more universal and consider all human beings.

What message has the community of nations worked through after the Holocaust?

Over the years, many memorials to the Holocaust have been established worldwide. A monument is a symbolic, visual representation of a message. Study the following monuments and try to deduce the message that their builders wanted to express. Note the location of each monument.

IV. Conclusion

In your opinion, is there a message communicated by the Holocaust to every person in the world? Should there be? What would its contents be? What monument or memorial would you build to convey this message?

January 27 Journal Entry Topics

Sample Journal Entries for January 27th Lesson

These are some ideas that students may decide to write about in their journal entries.

1. Students might write about the role of the UN and intervening with international causes such as this one.

2. Students might reflect on the liberation of Auschwitz and the role of other countries intervening in global acts of genocide.

3. Students might write about whether or no they think January 27th is an appropriate day for and international Holocaust Memorial Day.

4. Students might write about whether or not they believe the international community should be remembering the Holocaust specifically.

5. Students might write about different ways to remember the Holocaust i.e. through poetry or music etc.

6. Students might write about the specific resolution and the different sections that were discussed in class.

7. Students might write about what we can learn from the Holocaust with regards to other international acts of genocide.

8. Students might write about how the international community should react to victims of genocide.

9. Students might write about why or why not they think they Holocaust is a unique act of genocide that should specifically be remembered using the writings of Professor Bauer as a guide.

10. Students might reflect on the poem by Dan Pagis and what it means to them and their personal memory of the Holocaust.

11. Students might reflect on the visual representations of memorials that were addressed during class.

12. Students might write about their own ideas for visual or other types of artistic representations of memorials for the Holocaust.

13. Students might reflect on the message they feel needs to be conveyed to the world regarding Holocaust memorial.

14. Students might reflect on Auschwitz and why it is important to remember this specific place.

January 27 Lesson Guide

January 27th Guide
This guide outlines steps by which to teach the provided lesson plan.

1. Ensure that the class knows what the UN is and has a general idea of what they do.

2. Explain that in 2005, the UN declared January 27th to be the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

3. Read the provided background information with the class. Discuss and explain the UN reasoning for creating a resolution to create a Holocaust Memorial Day. Then, engage the students in a discussion as to why they think such a day should exist.

4. Explain the meaning and significance of the date January 27th. Make sure that the students have a general knowledge of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Within an age appropriate context, ensure that students understand the atrocities that were committed within the camp and explain what was found by Red Army troops when they liberated the camp on January 27th. Also, take this opportunity to provide a general background of the Red Army and make sure students understand who they are and why/how they are liberating Auschwitz.

5. Facilitate a class discussion as to why the UN decided to declare January 27th the International Holocaust Memorial Day.

6. Split students into groups of three and distribute the worksheet with the three sections of the resolution. Direct students to read all three sections and then discuss which one they believe to be the central section of the entire resolution. Then bring the class all together to discuss with the entire group what each group decided was the central section and why.

Some possible responses from students might be:
-Developing educational programs to prevent future acts of genocide is the central section of the resolution because it encourages all people to remember the Holocaust and use it as a tool to teach people that preventative measures need to be taken to prevent future acts of genocide among any group of people.

-An International Holocaust Day exists to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten and that any denial of the even will not be tolerated in any form.

7. After concluding the discussion about the sections of the resolution, ask students why they think it is necessary to devote a day to remembering the Holocaust specifically. Ask students if they think the Holocaust is a unique event and ask them to elaborate on their answers.

8. Distribute the passage by Yehuda Bauer. Ask students to read the excerpt and underline specific points that they believe answers (either in part or in full) the question as to why the Holocaust specifically has an international memorial day.

9. Ask students to come to the board and write down which phrases they underlined. Then, continue a class discussion about why Professor Bauer believes the Holocaust should have an international memorial day and why it is a unique event.

10. Introduce the idea that there are different methods to learning about and understanding the Holocaust. One method is poetry. Hand out copies of Dan Pagis` poem Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car. Before sending students to work on their own, provide them with background information about Dan Pagis. This information is included in the Project 4 Teachers Guide.

11. In additional to handing out copies of the poem, hand out sheets containing the discussion questions that go with the poem. Instruct students to read the poem in pairs and answer the questions provided on the handout.

Suggestion: Have a large copy of the poem printed out and posted somewhere on the board.

12. Bring the class back together and ask them to share their answers to the question. Then, ask students to offer their own personal words to complete the poem.

13. Next, read the passage by Marek Edelman. Ask the students to answer how they think the passage reflects or complements the ideas in the poem by Dan Pagis.

14. Ask students to explain, what they think, is the message that the UN has created regarding the Holocaust. Then, show the students a series of monuments dedicated to the memorial of the Holocaust. Ask them to explain what they think the artists/builders had in mind when constructing their respective pieces.

15. To conclude the lesson, ask students if they think that there is a message conveyed to all people in the world regarding the Holocaust. If so, what is that message? Then, ask them if they were to create a monument to commemorate the Holocaust, what would they build and why would they build it. What message do they wish to convey?

16. Ask students to write an entry in their Project 4 journal to reflect about the memorial of the Holocaust and the ideas covered in the lesson.

The following are suggestions for how to split up the lesson materials for various numbers of class meetings.

If teaching the material in one lesson, please cover all of the numbered instructions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

If teaching the material in two lessons, please cover the following numbered instructions:

· Lesson 1: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 14 (focus on what January 27th is)

· Lesson 2: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 (focus on the messages of the Holocaust and the importance of having an international day of remembrance)

If focusing on poetry, please cover the following numbered instructions: give a brief background about the Holocaust, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Helpful webistes about children and the Holocaust:

1. “And Despite It All, I Am Alive”: Educational Journey Beyond the Image

2. Between the Worlds: Social Circles in the Theresienstadt Ghetto

3. “No Child’s Play”; Children in the Holocaust: Creativity and Play

4. Research Projects: Children and the Shoa

5. Youth Groups in the Lodz Ghetto

6. A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust – Children

7. Children in the Ghetto

8. Children of the Holocaust

9. Musée Mémorial des Enfants D’Izieu


Helpful websites about Holocaust memorials:

1. International Holocaust Remembrance Day

2. The Voice of the Survivors: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2010

3. Yom Hashoa Ceremonies

4. Holocaust Memorials

5. Remembrance and Memorials