Kristen Wright, The Florida Holocaust Museum’s Writer and Digital Content Manager
The Florida Holocaust Museum’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Gelman and Curator of Education and Director of Research, Urszula Szczepinska were in West Palm Beach (Palm Beach County) this week for The FHM’s Summer Institute for Teachers program. The FHM’s Summer Institute for Teachers program, which was offered in Partnership with Yahad – In Unum and the School District of Palm Beach County, was a unique opportunity for educators to attend a special seminar led by The FHM and Yahad – In Unum experts on the massacres committed by German mobile killing units – the Einsatzgruppen, other German militarized units, their Axis supporters, and local collaborators in Eastern Europe.
On June 6-7, two Yahad – In Unum researchers, Patrice Bensimon and Marie Moutier, conducted a seminar for 16 Social Studies and Language Arts teachers from the School District of Palm Beach County. The workshop focused on the genocide of Jews and Roma during WWII and provided educators with different ways of teaching about the Holocaust and of raising awareness of contemporary threats stemming from hatred and violence. Mr. Bensimon and Ms. Moutier explained in detail various aspects of Yahad – In Unum’s work, acquainted participants with excerpts from video interviews with the last eyewitnesses to the crime, and discussed the main steps of the Holocaust by bullets that can be found in other genocides. They discussed with educators the importance of their role in preventing the history of the Holocaust by bullets from being forgotten.
These crucial concepts were emphasized by Urszula Szczepinska, Curator of Education and Director of Research at The FHM and the author of the study guide designed as a teaching tool featuring Yahad – In Unum’s research. During the sessions she led, educators had an opportunity to work with activities from the study guide and explore case studies pertaining to Yahad – In Unum’s findings. In appreciation of the teachers’ role in educating students about this subject matter, Ms. Szczepinska said: “You build a bridge between Yahad – In Unum’s research and the way young people shape the world around them. By teaching about the Holocaust by bullets you help students commemorate individual victims, draw lessons from the past, and empower them to try to make a difference and help us prevent violence and mass killings in the future.”
In 2014, Urszula was invited by Yahad – In Unum to create a study guide to be used worldwide in conjunction with the exhibition. The result of this cooperation is a formal partnership between Yahad – In Unum and The Florida Holocaust Museum with programs and initiatives built around the missions of both organizations, such as enhancing awareness and understanding of this chapter of history, and retrieving individual identities of the victims. The 155-page study guide for educators provides material to enable an in-depth study of the “Holocaust by Bullets” with sample questions and activities to engage a discussion about the issues surrounding genocides and the individual’s responsibility.
Yahad – In Unum is a Paris-based organization dedicated to collecting testimonies of eyewitnesses, and identifying and documenting sites of mass crimes committed against Jews and Roma by the Germans and their collaborators during World War II in Eastern Europe. Since 2004 the organization has conducted over 100 research trips, identified over 1,700 execution sites and interviewed over 5,000 eyewitnesses in 8 countries.
On June 8, the three organizations held a special program for Holocaust Survivors and educators.
The program was funded in part by Florida Department of Education Commissioner’s Task Force on Holocaust Education. Thank you to Insight Through Education and the Florida Department of Education Commissioner’s Task Force on Holocaust Education for their support and special thanks to Maureen Carter for helping to organize this program. Maureen Carter and The FHM are both members of the Task Force.
Quotes from Summer Institute for Teachers program attendees:
-“Wonderful! Amazing! I learned so much more about the Holocaust!”
-“Outstanding!! Great material! Presenters were excellent!”
-“The seminar provided a new way to examine and present the Holocaust.”
-“This was a great learning experience that taught me new things that I will be able to use in my classroom.”
-“For all that we learn about the Holocaust, this was the first time my eyes were opened to the scale of the killings by the Einsatzgruppen. This training was phenomenal.”
-“Unlimited source of knowledge for self + classroom. Fantastic. Great support available through Maureen. Will visit The Florida Holocaust Museum. Thank you, Urszula.”
Additional photos from Summer Institute for Teachers program in Palm Beach County: