Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pre-War Jewish life through photographs

In any study of the Holocaust, time should be spent helping students to understand what life was like for the Jews prior to the start of the war. It helps to give them some sense of the magnitude of what was lost during the Holocaust – not just numbers, but families, communities, and traditions. One way I have done this in my classroom is by having students use the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Photo Archives.

Typically, I split them into groups by country (Germany, Britain, France, Austria, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Russia, Lithuania). Each group then uses the USHMM website to locate a variety of pictures that were taken prior to the start of the war (search "prewar ______ (fill in country of choice)"). I have each group share their photos and talk about what they learned about life before the war in their country. You can have them do a formal presentation through something like power point, photo story, or voice thread or you can have them do an informal share-out of the photos they researched. The “Interpreting Historical Images” worksheet provided by USHMM is a great resource to use any time you have your students analyzing images.

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