The curriculum resources have been edited by our Curator of Education & Director of Research, Urszula Szczepinska, and are now available in our teaching trunks (middle and high school level) shipped to schools across the country free of charge.
The trunks also contain an award-winning book, Memories of Survival, and a multiple-award-winning 30-minute documentary, “Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz,” completed in late 2011.
On her thirteenth birthday, June 12, 1942, Anne Frank received a diary as a gift. At that time, she and her family were living peacefully in Amsterdam, Holland after being forced to flee Hitler’s anti-Jewish regime in Germany. One month after receiving her diary, Anne and her family must go into hiding in the “Secret Annex,” a hidden portion of the building where Anne’s father worked.
On the eve of World War II, Clara Heller and her family lived in Antwerp, Belgium. Her family moved there from Romania when her father, on his way to vote, was beaten because he was a Jew. In Belgium, the family was a prosperous member of the community and enjoyed religious freedom. Clara was a happy, active teenager, but her life changed dramatically when the Germans invaded Belgium. Her family attempted to flee without success, first to France, and then to England.
The autobiography of Nechama Tec is a moving account of her childhood in Nazi occupied Poland. Nechama’s family is forced to take refuge with Polish Christians to prevent their capture and deportation. As an eleven-year-old, Nechama shares her confusion about the war, her struggles to stay with her family, and her ability to “pass” in Christian society. Tec is able to put into words the feelings of so many like herself who were faced with the challenge of changing their identity, religion, and beliefs in order to survive.
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston retells the moving story of her time spent in the Manzanar internment camp from 1942 to 1945. Jeanne and her family, along with ten thousand other Japanese-Americans, were forced from their home by the U.S. government into the desolate desert of California. There, surrounded by guard towers, armed soldiers, and barbed wire,
Meet Sanu, Eric, and April, three children from three very different families and learn about their lives. Their stories emphasize the seemingly minor and everyday ways heritage is transmitted through stories, songs, games, language, and special occasions. The stories told in this book show the importance of choice and adaptation in forging a cultural identity. They enable the readers to examine their own families: what makes them the same, what makes them distinct, and how this uniqueness is celebrated.
This collection of the poetry, diary entries, and artwork was created by children who were imprisoned in the Terezin concentration camp from 1942 to 1944. Terezin was a ghetto/camp for Jews on their way to concentration camps and the Germans used this camp as a “model camp.” There were facades of stores, houses, and cafes all used to fool the Red Cross. The children held in Terezin played, secretly attended school, drew, wrote, and acted. Within the camp they saw two very different realities: meadows, hills, and birds in some areas, and flies, food lines, starving people, concrete and bunks, beatings and executions in others.
Once Jacob Gutgeld lived with his family in a beautiful house in Warsaw, Poland. He went to school and played hide –and –seek in the woods with his friends. But everything changed the day the Nazi soldiers invaded in 1939. Suddenly it wasn’t safe to be Jewish anymore. They had to leave their home and move to the ghetto. One afternoon, eight- year- old Jacob slipped through a hole in the ghetto wall to meet Alex Roslan, a kind Christian man who agreed to be his new “uncle”. The Roslan family, at the risk of their own lives, kept Jacob’s identity as a Jew hidden. Every day of hiding meant a new danger and a threat of discovery. Jacob worried about his real family and longed to go to school and play outside like the Roslan children.
It is 1919 and Rifka’s brother Nathan has deserted the Russian army. This puts the family at great risk, so to protect themselves, twelve-year-old Rifka and her family flee Russia for America in the hope of a better life. After barely escaping from Russia into Poland, Rifka’s family is on their way to Warsaw to purchase steamship tickets to America. While on the train, Rifka contracts ringworm from another passenger. Because of this condition she is refused passage to America. Her family leaves without her, and she is sent to Belgium to be treated for the disease. Finally, when she is cured, she sets out for America.
Elie Wiesel’s autobiography is a moving account relating his experiences as a teenager in Transylvania. He shares his memories of living with his family in a ghetto, his transport to Auschwitz and then Buchenwald, and his eventual liberation. Elie lived with his family in the town of Sighet and prior to 1944 there was little effect felt from Hitler’s regime. Despite warnings, the Wiesel family and others in the small town did not feel threatened by the rumors of roundups and mass killings. With the eventual liquidation of the ghetto, the Wiesels are sent to Auschwitz. Elie loses his mother and sister, and he and his father are forced to endure constant terror and unspeakable conditions.
This simple but heroic story tells the true-life events that shaped the lives of one Japanese family and thousands of Polish Jews. The book is told through the eyes of a five year old d, Hiroki Sugihara. In 1940 Hiroki’s father, Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese consul to Lithuania. With the spread of German control throughout Europe, Jews began to flee Poland in search of safety from the Nazis. One such opportunity was to seek refuge through a foreign government. When thousands of fleeing Jews came to Sugihara to request safe-transit visas, Sugihara had to make a decision; only issue a few visas, as was permitted by Japanese law, or go against direct orders and issue as many visas as possible.
This memoir retells the author’s experiences as a child growing up in Holland and her decision as a teenager to join the Dutch Resistance. This group of brave men and women risked their lives to aid Jews in escaping Nazi persecution and death. Ippisch began her work in the resistance by escorting Jews to safety and later by finding safe meeting places for key members of the underground to discuss their plans. It was during one of these meetings that Ippisch and her colleagues were discovered and arrested. Ippisch was sent to a German prison, where she endured inhuman conditions and was interrogated about her involvement in the organization. During these interrogations she refused to reveal any information that would help the Germans. In telling her own story, Ippisch shares not only her own moral courage, but also the strength of the exiled Dutch government, and the resilience of thousands of ordinary people in Holland during the war.
This book is based on the true experiences of a Polish journalist, now dead, whom Uri Orlev met in Israel when they were both adults. Marek, his mother, and stepfather are a family living outside the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland. When Marek turns fourteen, his stepfather tells him of his smuggling operations, which provides food and sometimes weapons to Jews in the ghetto, and includes him in the illegal activity. When Marek’s mother discovers that Marek has joined two young thugs to steal from a ghetto escapee, she reveals the true identity of his father, who is Jewish. Marek’s remorse leads him to befriend another escapee and find him shelter.
Vowels and Consonants have always been enemies. Each thought they were the more important asset to the alphabet. Vowels were smug and stuck up and Consonants were strong and sassy. Although they lived in constant indifference, they never did wage battle. But one day they began a terrible war to prove who were the better letters. When the war was looking quite grim, an enemy of the entire alphabet appears. The soldiers stopped fighting and the Vowels and Consonants had to work together to fight “the terrible scribble.” They composed words and sentences that became too much for the scribble to challenge. The Vowels and Consonants realized what could be accomplished by working together.
This is a young girl’s account of day-to-day living in war-torn Bosnia. Through her descriptions, we learn about her personal thoughts and feelings. Her entries capture experiences that are common adolescent concerns: worries about being popular, entertainment, and what will happen in the future. Before war broke out, Zlata Filipovic was a normal, happy twelve-year-old, but life changed in the spring of 1992 when Serbian artillery positions were placed on hills above her home, and the shelling of Sarajevo began. Zlata was forced to spend much of her time in a cellar protected from the bombings. Food, electricity, and water were scarce and friends and relatives were injured and killed in the gunfire and bombings. Zlata lost her innocence and childhood because of the war. When we read her diary, we read of her confusion, fear, and despair, but we also learn of her strength, love, and belief in basic human goodness.