Stand Together on Holocaust Memorial Day – 27th January 2020

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is a national commemoration day in the UK dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The 27th of January marks the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp and therefore the HMD is on 27th January, 2020.

This year’s theme is Stand Togetherand is a landmark anniversary; marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau but also the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia

Genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups. Now more than ever, we need to stand together with others in our communities in order to stop division and the spread of hatred in our society. 

Sadly, news stories like ones found on the BBC in November 2019, suggest we still have a long way to go fighting against bigotry and hate. The BBC reported that Liliana Serge, who was sent to the notorious Auschwitz death camp at 13, was subjected to a barriage of anti-Semitic messages [in November 2019]. This came after Ms Serge, an Italian life senator, called for parliament to establish a committee to combat hate. The motion passed despite a lack of support by Italy’s right-wing parties.

Stories such as this make it more important than ever to teach our young people about the atrocities in the past so that they may stand together to stop division and the spread of hatred.

Back in October 2019, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau; a trip I would urge everybody to take if they can. Despite having read many historical narratives and other literature about Auschwitz, I was still shocked by how vast the camps were, particularly Auschwitz II – Birkenau. The guided tour was incredibly moving and informative; we were told by the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had been murdered in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.

Below are a few of the photographs I took during the tour (n.b. cameras without flash are allowed on the tour, but there were certain areas I committed to memory rather than photgraphing).

Photograph 1 – A watchtower at Auschwitz; Photo 2 – Kitchen pots and pans (as people believed they were being sent to a work camp); Photo 3 – The “beds” at Birkenau; Photo 4 – the railtrack which brought prisoners to the middle of Birkenau (where many were sent immediately to their death).

If you are planning on completing your own Holocaust Memorial Day activities, there is an Activity Pack to help facilitate activities. The free Activity Pack is now available to order, along with sticker sheets, metal HMD pin badges and ‘About HMD’ booklets to use. You can order the resources using this link. (There are activities suitable for (primary, secondary and SEND pupils).

Their resources aim to help students to:

  • Learn more
  • Feel empathy
  • Be inspired to take action

Whilst you are waiting for physical resources to arrive, download ‘Your Guide to Holocaust Memorial Day’ to help you plan your HMD activity. If you have any questions about this, please email enquiries@hmd.org.uk or call 020 7785 7029. 

Perhaps you could consider preparing a commemorative display, using the image of one of the memorial flames and your pupils could contribute artwork or poetry towards it? @TimAllwood tweeted recently, “My 10-year-old daughter is doing WW2 at school. She painted this watercolour last night. I’m really impressed with it. There’s a “darkness” to it.” 

I have included it below (with his permission) in the hope it inspires both you and your pupils (see also @LGfL Holocaust Education though the Ben Uri Art Collection)

LGfL offers a range of resources that can support your HMD activities, and all have been carefully created with experts to ensure accuracy, appropriateness and sensitivity about the Holocaust and genocides for teachers at both primary and secondary levels.

Documenting the Holocaust: A unique resource which gives access to carefully curated artefacts from the Wiener Library, one of the world’s most extensive holocaust archives. The collection of over one million items includes press cuttings, photographs and eyewitness testimony. The videos within the resource offers unique stimulus to be used as valuable as starters, plenaries and main lesson stimuli and support discussion in and out of lesson time.

The Holocaust Explained: Produced originally in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre, but now managed by the Wiener Library, this website features a large range of media resources, historical documents and graphical representations of a wide-range of aspects of the Holocaust; the site has over 500 webpages, 1000 media assets, a glossary of 720 terms and 11 oral testimonies. Watch below the Case Study ‘The Holocaust Explained’ hosted on @LGfLTV:

Holocaust Education though the Ben Uri Art Collection: A resource designed to support GCSE History and Art and Design research into Holocaust art, the resources help to ‘deconstruct’ art works from the Ben Uri Gallery and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. The expert teacher support is some of the finest available from LGfL.

The M Room: The M Room resource gives unique access to secret World War II listening sites where the British Secret Service bugged high-ranking German Military prisoners to secure key intelligence to help win the war. The resources feature an interview with one of the original secret listeners and extensive primary-source material from the Ministry of Defence, relatives of those involved, and the National Archives.

The Cold War: The resources span borders, ideologies and even realities; interviewing spies, journalists and dissidents; visiting prisons, concentration camps, and museums; filming underground, above ground and from air; and uncovering documents, images and secrets never before revealed. Although the resource focusses on post second world war tensions between the Superpowers, there are sections that link to the topic and the influence the Holocaust had on subsequent post war events.

Other recommended (free) resources you can access:

The BBC have also created a collection of resources aimed at secondary schools to mark HMD including 6 animations based on Stories of Children who Survived the Holocaust, as well as much, much more.

Michael Rosen has recorded a series of powerful poems about the experiences of his family in the Holocaust which you can use to inspire your students.

A selection of resources based around “War and Peace” from the Literacy Shed. These would be worth watching particularly if you are completing a more lengthy topic around war and peace (and not just HMD).

Back in September, I read the following blog about making responsible choices when choosing historical narratives and ensuring that pupils know that sometimes authors include historically inaccurate events in their narratives. I believe it highlights an important message to critically assess our choices for class novels and also to ensure we discuss with our pupils where narratives do not always stay true to the facts of the time.

‘Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and do some good.’ Quote by Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe.

As teachers, it is vital that we continue to pay our respect to the victims of the Holocaust by continuing to sensitively pass on the memories of the past and to try and prepare our pupils “to try to do some good”.  We hope that our resources will support you with this important endeavour. 

Please let us know the impact the resources have had on your pupils and colleagues or indeed suggestions for what else you would like to see from LGfL by posting on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook. 

 

 

 

 

Cold War VR Update

Einstein wisely stated, ‘The only source of knowledge is experience’.

As a teacher, we are always thinking on how can we deliver new experiences to students within the limitations of our school space and time, with many teachers finding it harder to go on school trips because of expense and time wasted travelling, we need to look at how technology can provide a range of immersive and engaging experiences that couldn’t normally happen within a normal school day.

The ClassVR by Avantis Whitepaper tells us that:

Virtual Reality, by its pure definition, can deliver experiences and interactions for students that are either not practical or not possible in the ‘real world’, provides an unparalleled way to immerse and captivate students of all ages. Virtual Reality helps students feel immersed in an experience, gripping their imagination and stimulating thought in ways not possible with traditional books, pictures or videos, and facilitates a far higher level of knowledge retention. “

With this in mind LGfL and the amazing team at Computeam have looked at updating our Cold war resource, so that it offers an experience that cannot be found anywhere else, that of a Virtual Reality Nuclear blast!

I spoke to Phil Birchinall Education Director at Computeam Ltd about this exciting update:

“Our challenge was to create a scenario that presented pupils with a realistic experience of the genuine level of fear that existed in the country during the late 70’s and in to the 80’s. Most people then considered it to be a matter of when not if, nuclear Armageddon and ‘mutually assured destruction’ would take place. We wanted to portray how life could change dramatically and instantly in the case of a nuclear strike. At the same time we don’t want to leave students traumatised! Our goal is to provide just enough jeopardy and threat to leave them feeling they have just experienced something significant.

 Also, this is a teaching resource so it has to be loaded with prompts and questions for further study and exploration. We made sure that the context is accurate. The sounds are all genuine sounds from the period, even the date it’s set, 18th July 1981. The bunker is an accurate recreation of a DIY bunker layout produced in the 1960”

 Finally, implementing VR into your curriculum fully can be hard and making sure it has an impact on learning as well as having the wow factor is vital. LGfL with help from ClassVR by Avantis have produced a prompt sheet which can help you on your class journey.

 

 

You can find the new Cold War Nuclear Strike app iOS here or for Android here

Tell us how you use VR in your class by sharing either on our Twitter or Facebook pages.