Institute News

Inside IWitness: “No Place on Earth"

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 learn the incredible true story of a group of Ukrainian Jews who hid in underground caves during the Holocaust in the IWitness Information Quest activity that ties into the 2013 film No Place on Earth.

No Place on Earth is the dramatic true tale of the longest continuous underground survival in recorded history. Five Ukrainian families created a society of their own after choosing life in an underground cave over probable death above ground when the war reached their community. Their experience came to light when an American cave explorer, Chris Nicola, in Ukraine to find his roots and map the caves, uncovered artifacts left behind by the survivors. The film is produced by Magnolia Productions and directed by Janet Tobias.

Six of the survivors’ testimonies are in the Visual History Archive. In the IWitness Information Quest, students watch an introductory video about the Holocaust and then clips of the survivors’ testimonies in which they describe living conditions in the cave, help they received from the outside, and the raid that ultimately led to the arrest of most of the cave inhabitants.

Choosing one clip, students 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.