A Poem for the Victims
Create a poem based on letters written by Holocaust victims sent to family members from home, hiding, ghettos, prisons, and concentration camps.
Students will learn about the difficult circumstances that survivors faced after the war in rebuilding their lives, and learn about the different factors in many people’s decision not to return to the countries where they had previously lived.
Often, Jewish survivors made the decision to settle in countries besides their native ones after the war because their families, communities, and lives back home had been destroyed and they faced continued violence and antisemitism there.
Ask the students what kinds of problems they thought survivors might have faced when they were finally liberated. Lead a short discussion, based on previous knowledge of the war and the Holocaust, about the difficulties in rebuilding people’s lives.
Read the resource, Survivors and the Displaced Persons era by ‘The Holocaust Explained,’ The Wiener Holocaust Library with the class, including the accompanying images. You can stop reading at the section titled, ‘German-Jewish Communities Outside the Camps.’ Take time to answer questions to the best of your ability and clarify if necessary. Ask students to take notes on key facts that stood out to them about why survivors felt they could not return to their home countries, or the antisemitism they continued to encounter.
As a class, discuss the reasons why many people may have chosen not to move back to countries such as Poland or Hungary at the end of the war.
Lead a discussion with students about what the word “home,” “country,” or “citizenship” means to them, and how difficult it would be to have lost these things. Make sure to discuss how difficult it was to feel as if you could not go back to where you were before because you might be injured or worse, but how other countries did not want you, either.
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
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