Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

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The core of this learning unit consists of photographs taken by German soldiers in the Warsaw ghetto. The photographs capture a unique and little-known reality that evolved in the margin between life and death…

Although the unit deals with the Warsaw ghetto, it does not claim to cover all aspects of ghetto life. The purpose of the unit is not to provide knowledge through systematic study; instead, it is to enable students to gain a sense of life in the ghetto as it was experienced by the ghetto residents themselves. Through discussion and analysis of selected topics, the students will become familiar with aspects of the ghetto and its world, with dilemmas faced by its residents, and with the doubts, hardships, and ways in which they coped with extra ordinarily difficult circumstances.

The importance of the unit lies not in providing clear-cut answers, but in getting students to ask relevant and challenging questions.

To achieve this objective, a four-step process will be used. Students will be asked to inspect the photographs, carefully and closely read passages from diaries in the Student Workbook, voice their views and questions during discussions, and, finally, discuss questions chosen from the key topics that appear in the Student Workbook.

The unit consists of two collections of texts: Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook.

The Teacher’s Guide contains the following:

  • A chapter with analysis and discussion of photography and photographers in the ghettoes and camps.
  • An article by Professor Yisrael Gutman, which surveys the history of the Warsaw ghetto from its establishment to the outbreak of the uprising. (This article should help the teacher handle the various factual and conceptual issues that will present themselves throughout the learning process).
  • Pedagogical instruction, the aim of which is to help the teacher shape and give direction to discussions in the classroom.

The Student Workbook contains questions and reading passages. The questions are designed to draw the students’ attention toward the key issues and to structure discussion around a clearly defined topic.

Attention: Most of the photographs are accompanied by questions and educational activities. The teacher should use his/her own judgment in selecting the photographs and activities most suited to his/her group of students.