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. 

 

 

 

 

Victory in Europe Day – Wednesday 8th May

Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) commemorates Tuesday, 8 May 1945, the date when the Allies of World War II formally accepted the Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. (The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945). It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.

Many schools choose to commemorate the day through assemblies or by undertaking research in class. We hope this blog will support you to explore how people reacted at the end of the war in Europe and how the British celebrated on the Home Front with your pupils.

To introduce the day perhaps you could use the BBC Sound Effects resource. You could explore which sounds your pupils recognise from the “mystery sounds” you play. There are many sounds to pick from including: Doodle Bugs, gunfire, air raids and tanks.

Then to explore and learn more about WWII, the Widgit resource has WWII ‘Books’ and ‘Activities’. The titles in the books include: World War 2, The Blitz, War in the East, Life at Home and Life for Children. These short books contain simple sentences and pictures, with each covering a separate topic. Each book is available at 5 different levels and has relevant vocabulary cards at the back and has an activity pack (with six activities – matching activity, missing vowel, quiz, sentence matching, spelling and wordsearch) to download also. 

Busy Things has a ‘World War 2 warfare’ resource which explores the question, “What was it like for soldiers to fight in the war?” In addition, you could use the new Comic Strip resource in BusyThings with your pupils. They could storyboard the announcement that the war was over, the way people celebrated VE Day or even the causes of WWII by choosing from the preprepared templates for comic strips. The example was completed in BusyThings in English>composition>storytelling and poetry.

Should you want to explore the work of women as code breakers during WWII then our resource ‘Women in Computing’ aims to recognise and promote the achievements of women in British computing within the social context of the time. The pupils can learn about the important role they played in the eventual victory of WWII.

To explore the Holocaust and Nazi era in greater depth, you could use the Documenting the Holocaust resource. LGfL has been given unique access to the Wiener Library’s collection (a world leading and extensive archive on the Holocaust and Nazi era). This powerful resource is aimed at Key Stages 2-5 PSHE, Citizenship, History and R.E.

The M Room resource from LGfL gives exclusive access to secret World War II listening sites where the British Secret Service bugged high-ranking German Military prisoners. The resource features 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.

Further resources not hosted on LGfL which are free to access can be found below: 

The War and Peace Shed from the Literacy Shed, has a range of short films that could be used when looking at the theme of World War II (including ‘German in the Woods’, ‘The Piano’ and ‘Beyond the Lines’.)

Visit the Imperial War Museum site for “What you need to know about VE Day” and the “10-photos of VE Day Celebrations”.

In addition, you could play Winston Churchill’s announcement below:

We hope this blog proves useful, should you be exploring VE Day with your pupils. If you complete any of the activities why not share what you did on our Twitter or Facebook accounts?