Back to School with Echoes and Reflections - Part 9

Fri, 11/15/2013 - 4:08pm

Today continues a 10-part series called “Back to School with Echoes and Reflections.” Each installment takes a detailed look at one of the 10 Echoes and Reflections lessons.

Echoes and Reflections is a multimedia professional development program for secondary school teachers in the United States that provides them with accurate and authentic Holocaust information for their classrooms.  Programs are held around the country at no cost to teachers or schools, and participants receive a complimentary copy of the 10-part Teacher’s Resource Guide that equips them with the tools they need to help today’s students study the Holocaust as a significant event in human history.

Echoes and Reflections combines the resources and competencies of three world leaders in education―the Anti-Defamation League’s experience in curriculum and professional development, access to USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive of survivor and witness testimonies and digital educational tools, and Yad Vashem’s historical expertise and primary source materials―resulting in the most comprehensive Holocaust education program available.

Echoes and Reflections includes everything educators need to teach the complex issues of the Holocaust. Each lesson within the Echoes and Reflections Teacher’s Resource Guide explores a different aspect of the Holocaust and encourages students in grades 6-12 to build an authentic and comprehensive portrait of the past as they frame their own thoughts, resulting in a deeper level of interest and inquiry.

The modular design of the Echoes and Reflections Teacher’s Resource Guide includes photographs, literature, artwork, diary entries, government documents and other primary source materials that teachers may easily photocopy and distribute to students. Lessons also incorporate testimony from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive on DVD Each lesson addresses Common Core State Standards, and each one has been integrated into IWitness. IWitness is USC Shoah Foundation’s educational website that provides students and teachers access to more than 1,300 full life histories and testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides from the Visual History Archive for guided exploration, multimedia projects, activities and lessons.

To date Echoes and Reflections has prepared almost 20,000 educators and community leaders across the United States to use the Teacher’s Resource Guide effectively. Teachers interested in more information about Echoes and Reflections should contact

Lesson 9: Perpetrators, Collaborators and Bystanders

Students learn about the roles that perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders played in the Holocaust, and the subtle differences between each that all ultimately led to the murder of millions of Jews.

The lesson begins with students watching testimony from survivors Jan Karski and Dennis Urstein, who each discuss who they think was at least partly responsible for the events of the Holocaust.

Students then spend considerable time with a primary source document, Salitter’s Report. In the report, a Nazi officer, Hauptmann Salliter describes the transportation of Jews from Dusseldorf to Riga. Students discuss the many individuals mentioned in the report and the role each of them played, directly or indirectly, in the eventual murders of most of the Jews on that transport.

The report leads to a discussion of the difference between “collaborator” and “bystander,” and at what point a bystander becomes a collaborator.

Next, the lesson turns to the war crimes trials that were held after World War II. Testimonies of Edith Coliver and Regina Zielinski, who both participated in the trials as a translator and witness, respectively, introduce students to the process and main defendants of the trials – Hermann Goering and Rudolph Hoess.

Handouts about Hoess and Adolf Eichmann give students the perspectives of two top Nazis about why they carried out the murders of Jews.

To learn about the role of bystanders, students learn the story of the St. Louis, a German ship carrying Jewish refugees that was denied entry to Cuba despite previous cooperation with Cuba’s department of immigration. Even though the refugees were ultimately accepted to Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and France, most were later murdered by the Nazis.

Students debate various arguments about the responsibility nations have to help persecuted people from outside their borders. They also learn about the Evian Conference and the Bermuda Conference and look at artworks that represent the plight of refugees.

Finally, the lesson turns to the difficult topic of Holocaust denial. Students may conduct their own research on Holocaust denial groups, talk about how the First Amendment affects deniers’ right to share their views, and decide if Holocaust denial is a form of antisemitism.

Next week – Lesson 10: The Children

Lesson 1: Studying the Holocaust

Lesson 2: Antisemitism

Lesson 3: Nazi Germany

Lesson 4: The Ghettos

Lesson 5: The “Final Solution”

Lesson 6: Jewish Resistance

Lesson 7: Rescuers and Non-Jewish Resistance

Lesson 8: Survivors and Liberators