Institute News

Inside IWitness: “Information Quest: Ellis Lewin”

Inside IWitness is an ongoing series that will profile each activity in IWitness, along with a clip featured in the activity and a teacher who uses IWitness in his or her classroom.

Students examine Ellis Lewin’s testimony in the Information Quest about his life before, during and after the Holocaust.

Ellis was born in Lodz, Poland. He had an odler sister, Miryam, and his father, Josef, was a concert pianist. He had a happy childhood, until his family’s neighborhood was turned into the Lodz ghetto in 1939. The family stayed together until 1944, when they were deported to Auschwitz. Ellis and his father were separated from his mother and Miryam, and never saw them again. Before Auschwitz was liberated, Ellis and Josef were transferred to separate camps, and Ellis survived on his own until he was liberated from Dachau in the spring on 1945. After recovering from typhoid, Ellis immigrated to the United States, where he was finally reunited with his father. He eventually married and had three children.

In the activity, students watch a brief biography of Ellis’s life before watching seven clips from his testimony about different experiences, including “Ghetto personal property seizure,” “Camp liberation,” “Loved ones’ fates” and “War crimes trial participants.”

From one clip of their choosing, they create a word cloud featuring the clip’s themes, people, places, emotions and other aspects that stand out to them. Students share their word clouds with each other and comment on each other’s work.