Goals and Phases of the Unit
It is recommended that this unit be spread over three class sessions.
I. First Lesson
- A. Introduction to general Jewish demography in the interwar period, focusing on Polish Jewry and its major communities in various Polish cities in comparison with other countries shown in the tables (20 minutes).
- B. Historical description of the circumstances of Polish Jewry in the interwar period, focusing on sociopolitical aspects (25 minutes).
Screening of the film Image Before My Eyes on interwar Polish Jewry. The 90minute film, available from Yad Vashem, describes the diverse Jewish political parties in Poland, their political situation, and their response to antisemitism. Because the film is too long to show in a single class period, the teacher should select sections that will elucidate the theme of the discussion. Teachers who wish to show the entire film should devote another lesson to it.
An alternative 45-minute film on Polish Jewry from 1919 to 1943 describes the segmentation of Polish Jewry. It, too, is available from Yad Vashem.
II. Second Lesson
- A. The source material on each political party, along with the sheet of facilitating questions pertaining to each source, is handed to students in each of the seven groups.
- B. The historical background material on every party is given to each of the groups. The source material, question sheets, and background material on the parties should be handed out some time before this lesson, in order to give the students time to an- swer the facilitating questions.
During the lesson, the students report on the existential problem of Polish Jewry as portrayed by the source material, and describe the solution that each political party proposed. The teacher summarizes the students’ answers in a table on the chalkboard.
III. Third Lesson
The entire lesson is devoted to discussion of the central question of the unit:
In view of the plight of Polish Jewry in the 1920s and 1930s, which of the attitudes analyzed seems the most practicable to you?
At this stage, the teacher should play the devil’s advocate. Relevant questions appear in Phase V of this unit (pp. 75-80). Set aside at least ten minutes at the end of the lesson for a general summary.