Nazi salutes and swastikas: How to respond to antisemitism in schools

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 4:51pm

The news about a group of teenagers throwing a Nazi salute at a party in Orange County is a startling reminder that knowledge of the Holocaust is fading. For a more empathetic society, we must teach today's students about the Holocaust and other genocides and how these atrocities were preceded by widespread hatred and dehumanization. We offer free online classroom-ready activities on IWitness that address the topics of antisemitism, bystanders and hatred.

Here are four activities:

Contemporary Antisemitism

What is antisemitism and how is it different than contemporary antisemitism? How do historical events shape contemporary societies?

This activity defines antisemitism and contemporary antisemitism, and focuses on Denmark's collective pride around the Holocaust-era rescue of its Jewish citizens and how this pride was reinvigorated after a 2015 attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Through testimony, students will see how antisemitism, hate, and stereotypes impact everyone in society, not just those targeted in an attack.

Antisemitism and the Bystander Effect

In this activity, students will develop an understanding of what it means to be a bystander and the impact of bystanding. Students will watch testimonies from survivors of and witnesses to historical and contemporary antisemitism who describe the consequences of the bystander effect in their own lives. Students will construct a social media message that describes their own plan to counter bystander behavior.

My Story Matters: Othering and Hate

In this activity, students learn about the topic of "othering" - where people or groups of people are viewed as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. Through careful reading of audiovisual testimony, students first consider the topic from a personal perspective. They then consider the ways in which Jews were "othered" via propaganda embedded in society under the Nazi regime. Finally, students reflect on the power of story to counter hate and intolerance by recognizing the need to uncover and give voice to all stories. Students complete an "I Am" Poem as a result of this activity.

Stronger Than Hate

A suite of activities broken down by grade level, from primary school to university.

Together, we are #StrongerThanHate.