During the Holocaust we can see numerous accounts of non-Jews, or gentiles going out of their way to rescue Jews from being taken, harmed or deported.
- 1What are the characteristics of upstanders?
Discuss the following quote by Suzy Kassem: “Stand up for what is right against the wrong.”
Ask the students what they think this means. Do they know what it means to be an upstander?
You may want to provide students with the definition of an upstander: a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.
Next, introduce Oskar Schindler. Tell your students that Oskar Schindler was one of the most famous rescuers during the Holocaust. His status as a factory owner allowed him to hire Jews and protect them from deportations. He had been arrested several times for his apparent favoritism towards Jews but this did not deter him. Schindler and his wife are responsible for the rescue of 1,200 persecuted Jews.
Direct students to the Testimony of Yitzhak Stern from Yad Vashem. Explain that they will be reading the testimony of someone saved by Oskar Schindler. Ask students to read the testimony to themselves. Open up a discussion with the class asking the following questions:
- Why do you think Yitzhak’s colleagues were hesitant about trusting Schindler?
- What made Yitzhak trust him anyway?
Divide the class into groups of three or five. After reviewing the quote and Yitzhak’s testimony, create a brief presentation on what it means to be an upstander. Presentations can be made with Prezi, PowerPoint, or done verbally depending on what time permits. Students may want to use this additional resource by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to help them with their presentations.
Here are some questions to help focus the presentation:
- What is an upstander? What motivates a person to be an upstander?
- What did it mean during the Holocaust and what does it mean today?
- Come up with examples of upstanders from the Holocaust and from your life today.
- How can societies, communities, and individuals reinforce and strengthen the willingness to stand up for others?
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.