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"History Has A Name" Workshop: Module Descriptions

For Part I, A Child's Shoe, educators may choose to incorporate one or both of the units. In "Ordinary Things" students attempt to deduce the story behind a shoe, a simple artifact, building a connection as the inquiry deepens. Midway through the unit, the historical context of the shoe is presented and its discovery at Auschwitz-Birkenau is revealed through a compelling 8-minute film. In contrast to "Ordinary Things" where the name of the child to whom the shoe belonged is not known (and who in many ways represents the 1.5 million children who perished in the Shoah), in "Hinda Cohen's Shoe" the story of this child's short life and death, and the loving family who continues to honor her memory are known. While students can also attempt to deduce information about Hinda's shoe, they needn't speculate or wonder about the child, her life or her family's enduring love.

Despite the different perspectives and knowledge we have about the two shoes, each approach provides students with important insights into the Shoah, the scope of the tragedy as well as the personal losses. Part I of the workshop provides a necessary first step, an attempt at personalization, as students continue their exploration.

In Part II, The Scope of the Tragedy, the Shoah is re-framed in terms of scale, offering students two different perspectives by which to explore the scope of the tragedy. In "The Big Picture," students are provided with photographic images of ordinary things, personal belongings that were taken from Shoah victims and warehoused by the Nazis (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum photo archive). The large collection of personal items is a stark reminder and evidence to the six million victims of the Shoah as a group. In "Lost Communities" students are introduced to the thousands of small shtetls and communities across Eastern Europe that were destroyed during the Nazi reign of terror, and the toll (literally) in human life as they review a report from Einsatzgruppen commander Jaeger on his unit's murderous activities in Lithuania. The mounds of personal possessions presented in the first series of images stand in striking contrast to the lone image of a headstone, marking the site of the mass grave for the 1,125 Jews from the small Lithuanian town of Krakes.


We wish to thank and acknowledge the following individuals and groups. "Ordinary Things" Credits: Pedagogical concept and educational materials were created by Paul Salmons, Holocaust Education Development Programme, Institute of Education, University of London and The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme; The "Footprints: Discovering the Holocaust through Historical Artefacts" video for educators was produced by Cornelia Reetz, United Kingdom Holocaust Centre, Nottinghamshire; Photography of the child's shoe was provided courtesy of Olivia Hemingway; The shoe is part of the Collections of the Imperial War Museum London. Additional materials and photographs include: "Artifacts from the Holocaust" educational materials for Hinda Cohen's Shoe and "Stories Behind the Names" Yad Vashem Heroes' and Martyrs' Holocaust Remembrance Authority; Archival photographs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; and, the Jaeger Report from the Holocaust History Project; and ShtetlLinks from JewishGen.

The "Footprints: Discovering the Holocaust through Historical Artefacts" film shares a compelling story about love and and death using a child's shoe, a precious artifact, recovered at Auschwitz Birkenau.

In Part III, the responsibility of remembrance is introduced with an urgent Call to Action through the worldwide Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Campaign. Students, as well as adults, are surprised to learn that millions of names of Shoah victims are unknown and have not been recorded in the Shoah Victims' Names Database. Middle and High School students have an opportunity to explore the database and Pages of Testimony through "The Stories Behind the Names" lesson plan developed by Yad Vashem.

In the workshop's culminating activity, students have an opportunity to create hexagonally shaped memorial candleholders in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah (Holocaust). This activity provides students with a creative outlet by which to reflect and express their thoughts on the Shoah in general and on the six million Jewish men, women and children who perished in the Shoah as individuals in particular. The student-created plates also serve a functional purpose. Namely, students and their families can set a Yarzheit memorial candle on top of their plates for Yizkor-linked remembrances.

The YIZKOR project hopes this workshop will help students, of all ages, see the victims of the Shoah as individuals, as people who lived very normal lives before the Shoah.

Content for these modules is available in part or whole by request. Please contact Tami

Sample "Lost Communities" Yizkor Memorial plate

tribute plates to the lost communities