A Teacher's Guide to the HOLOCAUST: An Online Resource

Article excerpt

IN 1994, Florida became the first state to enact a law requiring instruction in the history of the Holocaust.(1) Among those who championed the law was Steven Spielberg, the director of Schindler's List. The law requires that all public schools teach:

   the history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned
   annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed
   event in the history of humanity, to be taught in a manner that leads to an
   investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of
   prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to
   be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging
   tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and
   protecting democratic values and institution. (The Holocaust Education
   Bill, SB 660)

Although the law mandated Holocaust education, very few of Florida's teachers were adequately prepared to teach this sensitive subject. To help meet the need for teacher preparation and curriculum resources, the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, along with the Instructional Technology program at the University of South Florida, created the online resource A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust (fcit.usf.edu/holocaust).(2)

The Teacher's Guide is designed to provide an overview of the Holocaust through text, original source documents, graphics, photographs, art, movies, and music. The website allows teachers to view the Holocaust through three different "lenses"--Timeline, People, and the Arts. Additional resources are provided in the Student Activities and Teacher Resources sections.

Timeline

The Timeline section focuses on the history of the Holocaust, chronicling the years from 1918 to the present. Hitler's rise to power was the initiation of a period that wrought great fear and destruction. Millions were forced to live in ghettos, only to be deported later to concentration camps. The tragic details remained obscure until the liberation of the death camps and the further revelations during the Nuremberg War Trials. The subsections of the Timeline section offer a simplified outline for examining the evolution of the Holocaust. However, it should be kept in mind that many of the following categories overlap.

* Rise of the Nazi Party (1918-1933). During the fourteen years following the end of World War I, the Nazi party grew from a small political group to the most powerful party in Germany.

* Nazification (1933-1939). Once Hitler became Chancellor and later Reichsfuhrer, the Nazi party quickly changed Germany's political, social, and economic structure.

* The Ghettos (1939-1941). Confining Jews to ghettos was another critical step leading up to Hitler's Final Solution.

* The Camps (1941-1942). The concentration camps were Hitler's final step in the annihilation of the Jews.

* Resistance (1942-1944). People resisted by any means possible, from stealing a slice of bread to sabotaging Nazi installations.

* Rescue and Liberation (1944-1945). Some survived through the heroics of neighbors; others were liberated by the Allies.

* Aftermath (1945-Present). After the war, Nazi perpetrators faced punishment for their war crimes and survivors began rebuilding their lives.

As teachers explore each of the categories in the Timeline section, they have access to a wealth of information. For example, in the Ghettos section, there is a concise description of the events that took place between 1939 and 1941. Additionally, there are links to original photographs of life in the Warsaw ghetto and art works of ghetto artists; other relevant websites, such as the Janusz Korczak site; and lesson plans, discussion questions, term paper topics, and reproducible handouts related to teaching about the ghettos.

People

The People section investigates the human drama of the Holocaust. …