Learning Activities to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 4:48pm

The world will observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, which is the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. It’s a day of somber reflection, but also a time for education so the world can be better protected from the evils of the past. Among its many programs, USC Shoah Foundation offers IWitness, a free online platform that teachers and students can use to navigate this difficult subject. Among its nearly 200 activities, IWitness has many that focus on Auschwitz, liberation and other topics of relevance to the day’s message. Here is a small sampling that can help students learn about the events that took place during World War II and that led to the murder of six million European Jews, and millions of others. 

  • Memory as an Historical Source – Liberation and Returning Home


    Author: The National Holocaust Center and Museum, UK.

    Grade Level: 9-11

    In this activity, students discuss questions relating to personal memory and history. They’ll begin considering their own earliest reminiscences and discuss memory from traumatic experiences.

    Also, they will identify and analyze survivors’ memory of liberation and stories of returning home. Based on this activity, students will reflect on how memories may not be precise and discuss their findings with peers.

  • Growing up 'Behind the Barbed Wire' of Auschwitz


    Author: USC Shoah Foundation

    Grade Level: 9-12

    Students will consider what life was like for children in Auschwitz by studying the iconic image of the children standing behind the barbed wire fence following the liberation of Auschwitz. They’ll also listen to the testimonies of some of the children in the picture.

  • Arrival at Auschwitz - Images and Individual Experiences / Llegada a Auschwitz - Imagenes y Experiencias Individuales


    Author: USC Shoah Foundation

    Language: English and Spanish

    Grade Level: 8-12

    This activity teaches students about considering personal experiences of those who arrived on the ramp at Auschwitz – Birkenau. They will explore images from the Auschwitz album, showing the arrival of Hungarian Jewish men, women and children in 1944, as well as listen to survivors who endured a similar process.

    Scholars will analyze photographs as a primary source, learn how testimony can be used to analyze other primary sources and will be introduced to the Auschwitz album and its historical context.


    This activity is offered in both English and Spanish.

  • Auschwitz – Inner Strength, Outward Resistance


    Author: USC Shoah Foundation

    Grade Level: 9-12

    Through the analysis of testimony, students will learn about the resistance efforts that took place in the Auschwitz camp complex and the meaning of endurance in the context of the Holocaust. They will construct a poem or collage to demonstrate their learning.

  • I Am An Eyewitness


    Author: USC Shoah Foundation

    Grade Level: 9-10

    This activity allows students to explore how IWitness testimony can make crucial contributions to the historical record. By closely examining primary sources from accounts of the Armenian Genocide, they will consider the value of testimony and conventional documentation of atrocities. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the unique nature of testimony by creating a video journal.

  • This is What I've "Scene": Theatrical Depictions of Survivor Stories


    Author: National Jewish Theater Foundation

    Grade Level: 9-12

    Students will develop historical narrative monologues using the IWitness testimonies of Holocaust survivors, witnesses and liberators.

    Also, they will learn how to construct a monologue using a given oral text, and will learn how to dramatically enhance the presentation of that monologue by creating and staging tableaus – or “stage pictures” – which give the monologue added a visual interest and help to illuminate the stories.