Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A helpful resource

When searching for Holocaust resources to use in classroom setting, the number of memoirs can be overwhelming. If you then looking just for segments of a memoir to use in class, this task can be even more daunting.

A few years back I had the pleasure of hearing Sir Martin Gilbert speak. He signed my copy of Kristallnacht – Prelude to Destruction and while I was talking to him I told him I was a high school teacher. He gave me a copy of a book by his wife Holocaust Memoir Digest: Volume 2.
The Holocaust Memoir Digest has proven to be a very valuable resource. It takes a memoir, for example All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein, and makes it very user friendly for teachers. It breaks down the memoir and literally tells you, by page number, what topics are covered. Klein’s book, for example, includes topics like:
  • Pre-war Jewish and community life
  • Pre-war antisemitism
  • The coming of the war
  • Daily life in the ghetto
  • Deportation
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Personal reflection
Also included are timelines linked to the memoir and maps to makes the geography understandable.
Volume 2, the volume I have, covers the following memoirs:
  • Gerda Weissmann Klein (All But My Life)
  • Saul Friedlander (When Memory Comes)
  • Art Spiegelman (Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Part I and II)
  • Fanya Gottesfeld Heller (Strange ad Unexpected Love, a Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs)
  • Erika Kounio Amariglio (From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz ad Back, Memoires of Survivor from Thessaloniki)
  • Solomon Gisser (The Cantor’s Voice)
  • Samuel Bak (Painted in Words – A Memoir)
The Memoir Digest also includes a very helpful section called Using the Digest. It takes various questions about the Holocaust and tells you which memoirs could be used to help answer these questions. For example a question like: In the pre-war years, how was Jewish religious life observed? The Digest tells you which of these memoirs to examine to help answer this question. There are over 10 pages of these kinds of questions.

There are three volumes in this Digest Series by Ester Goldberg. All three volumes are available in the MCHE Resource Center

For more information visit: http://www.holocaustmemoirdigest.org/.

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