• Overview

Overview

Turkish soldiers stand over emaciated Armenian corpses during the 1915 Armenian genocide

A list of the dead from a recent massacre in Sudan (from ushmm.org)

This student-donated notice is mounted on our door throughout the unit to remind us of the fates of Japanese-Americans during WWII

For her WWII speech, a student asked her grandmother, Helga Burchfield, to write her memoirs of life as a child in Nazi Germany.

Students examine my mom's WWII scrapbook. It's filled with love letters to & from my dad overseas, holiday cards, and military mess cards, passes, ration books

A bulletin board made from my dad's Yanks magazines

A photo from my father-in-law's WWII scrapbook. Click here to view other examples.

What's next?

(releasing Anne Frank's diary "in the wild with bookcrossing.com and creating photo trails)

The first "release" at Ashland, Oregon's Shakespeare Festival box office

"One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did, but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way: if we were capable of taking in the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live."

Primo Levi


Primo Levi's observation says much about the difficulty in confronting and trying to grasp and "take in" the enormity of the suffering which the Holocaust has caused and will continue to cause so many people. Yet, we must all wrestle with fundamental questions the Holocaust and genocidal acts before the Holocaust, such as Turkey's systematic attempt to eliminate the Armenians in 1915, and the recent atrocities committed in Rwanda. We must all at least try to answer the question: How could this happen?

To attempt to comprehend the nature of the Holocaust and the forces of genocide which continue today in Sudan, for example, Anne Frank's life must be understood in context.

To this end, I have provided two avenues:

In this lesson plan, you'll find samples of student work, handouts, and primary source material (now known by the educational buzzword "realia") such as

What's next?

Creating a photo trail for The Anne Frank Wall using bookcrossing.com

I just discovered the wonderful bookcrossing.com site and have registered as a member (annefrankwall). To paraphrase the site's founder Ron Hornbaker, the site's purpose is to release books 'into the wild' and track their progress and the lives they touch. I plan to get a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank for each student, donated by a grant from the Allen and Ruth Ziegler Foundation, and have each student 'release' their copy, after registering it with bookcrossing.com, into the wild in some interesting place (e.g. while on vacation). We'll include a request in each book for those who find and read it before passing it on to take a picture of themselves with the copy and send it to this website. In other words, we want to make a photo trail that tracks the book's progress in 'the wild.' Of course, bookcrossing.com has already released over 320 copies of Anne Frank's diary

But, I'm even more excited about using bookcrossing.com to release Alicia Appleman-Jurman's book Alicia, My Story after they've read it and ask those who find and read it to send photos of themselves with the book so our classes can build a photo 'wall' on this website for Alicia.

The Holocaust: Answering the question "How could this happen?

I'm focusing now with how I can improve my teaching so that I can better help students finds answers to the question "How could this happen?" I want to include the following paths of exploration:

  • exploration of the choices people made during the Holocaust. A good summary of the roles people freely chose or were forced to take on is found at the webpage called A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust. These roles were the following: victims, perpetrators, bystanders, resisters, rescuers, liberators, survivors, and children.
  • exploration of the timeline of events which led up to the Holocaust. I was fortunate to attend a Holocaust seminar for teachers given by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Steven Feinberg's presentation gave us a clear sense of how gradually changes occurred in Nazi Germany to convince a nation to accept and participate in the state-sanctioned policy of the Holocaust. I'm planning on making a timeline this summer that will 'surround' the classroom which depicts these changes. I've put in a section on the links page listing websites with timelines.

  • I would like teach a lesson comparing the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government with the Holocaust. Although one may note some important differences, many striking similarities can be found as well. An excellent analysis of the historical context of the Armenian genocide can be found in the moving and powerful work Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide by Donald E. Miller and Lorna Touryan Miller (see Part 1, Historical Background).
Created by James DeLong and Jon Erickson

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