Tuesday is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. None of our students were alive January 27, 1945 and very few teachers were. Acknowledging this anniversary will be easy with resources from around the web. PBS has assembled pictures of survivors holding pictures of their family or themselves, at the ages when they were taken.
The images are at Photos: Children of Auschwitz share stories of survival. Incorporate this into an ELA class by discussing any of the following questions or all of them – personalize it for the length of time you have.
Ask students to look at the pictures. Read the descriptions and point out the survivors’ ages when they were taken to a concentration camp.
Possible discussion points:
- Contrast the person today with the person in the smaller picture. Do the people look similar? How have these people changed – aside from becoming older?
- What stories do these pictures tell? Many pictures are mid-gesture or mid-sentence. What is the effect of that?
- What is a memorable story told among these pictures? Why does this story stay with you?
- Knowing what happened at Auschwitz, what emotions do you feel looking at these survivors?
One of the points teenagers realize when studying the Holocaust is that these survivors were their age. These survivors had growing bodies, were hungry, and wanted their parents. Students have real empathy for stories like Night and Number the Stars because they relate to the characters. These real pictures are an opportunity to add to those teaching units, or to teach as an independent lessons. Students can answer the above questions or write an extended answer about one.