REFLECTIONS

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EVIDENCE OF ATROCITY

OBJECTIVES

Students will be able to…

  • Collect, analyze and report on data gathered from Holocaust survivor testimonies
  • Construct and express their observations and perceptions of testimony as an historical source
  • Communicate with teachers and classmates as a way to debrief, reflect and critically think about this topic
TEACHERS’ PREPARATION
Before viewing the testimonies, discuss the concept of evidence with examples of primary sources. Generate a class definition using examples from the students’ own lives.

Provide access to digital copies of Biography: Serge H., Biography: Peter V., Biography: Leon K. (b. 1915), and Biography: Ruth S.

STUDENT INSTRUCTION

READING & GROUP DISCUSSION: EVIDENCE OF ATROCITY
Before beginning, review the key terms: Evidence and Primary Sources. Find examples from your own life.

Make sure that you have read the biography of one or more of the survivors in this cluster.

Individually or in a small group, select one quote from a video clip. Based on your understanding of the clip, write a response to the following prompts:

  • What motivates someone to create or leave documentation of an event or experience?
  • What can sources reveal about the past?
  • Do you think some sources are more effective evidence than others?

GUIDED VIEWING: MESSAGES TO THE FUTURE
Select one of the testimony excerpts from Serge H., Peter John V., Leon K., or Ruth S. In these excerpts, different survivors share messages for future generations, and their motivations for recording their testimony. Discuss with someone how we can learn about the present and plan for the future based on these stories from the past. Extend your discussion by asking whether the testimonies should be used to comment on historical periods outside of the time period they describe.


SERGE H.

LEON K.

PETER V.

RUTH S.


CLASSROOM DISCUSSION: SURVIVORS & HISTORIANS
What do you think is the role of the historian? What kind of duties or responsibilities should an historian have? With three other students, engage in a 4 Corners or U-shaped debate on the roles and responsibilities of the historian, survivor and witness.

Following the debate, consider the following questions:

  • Should testimony be shared with audiences broadly?
  • Should we draw lessons from the survivors’ experiences? If so, what are the lessons?
  • Should we use testimony to inform the future? If so, how?
  • Should we use testimony to understand the present? If so, how?
  • Should the intent of the survivor influence how we view their testimony?

You may want to write a short paragraph summarizing your ideas.

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