The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) is proud to present this web-based pedagogical resource, Primary Voices: Teaching Through Holocaust Survivor Testimony. More than 70 years after the Holocaust, eyewitness testimonies are assuming increasingly central roles in Holocaust education and remembrance.

Interacting with Holocaust survivors’ accounts of persecution, loss, and survival – their primary voices – offers distinct learning opportunities that support historical thinking and engagement with primary and secondary sources.

Materials are recommended for students in grades eight through 12, with adaptations possible for intermediate grades. As students explore this resource, the testimony excerpts, and the suggested discussions and activities, they employ a number of the core emphases of 21st-century learning and the British Columbia curriculum, such as personalized and deeper learning processes, as well as digital learning. This resource also supports the development of critical and creative thinking skills and reflection on social responsibility, all of which are core competencies of the BC curriculum.

This website acts as a portal for educators and students to engage with Holocaust testimony in a lesson, for a larger unit, or as part of an independent research project. The lessons are clustered into themes that are linked to the testimonies in the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s collection as well as to topics of particular relevance to the history of the Holocaust and the provincial curriculum. The themes do not reflect the entire history of the Holocaust but rather represent certain aspects of it.

Each theme is divided into three sets of lessons – NOW, NEXT, and BEYOND – to facilitate increasing levels of engagement with the themes and testimonies. The lessons are designed to be used with the video testimonies, as well as with supplementary materials available on this website and through the VHEC’s website.

With the participation of the Government of Canada, the VHEC undertook a significant project to digitize, preserve, and support access to and pedagogical use of the Centre’s collection of audio-video testimonies. The VHEC holds more than 200 video testimonies from eyewitnesses of the Holocaust. The testimonies, recorded between 1982 and 2015, are part of a series of video documentation projects dating back to the late 1970s and continuing today.