Liberation after the Holocaust did not necessarily mean the end to people’s suffering and trauma.
- 1Why is the reality of freedom more complicated than the idea of freedom?
Ask students what the words “liberation” and “freedom” mean to them. Usually people give positive answers to these concepts. Briefly explain that even though personal freedom and liberty is, objectively, good, in cases where you gain liberty and freedom after a period of trauma, fear, and violence, it can be a very difficult thing to adjust to and everyone reacts differently to it.
Give a brief presentation of images of life after liberation taken from the Yad Vashem archives. Point out the faces and body language of image subjects. Explain that people’s experiences of liberation were very different, as allied forces reclaimed territory at different times. Because there were so many people with nowhere to go and no possessions to speak of, often they would live in DP camps which were created from the remnants of the concentration camps that some were liberated from.
Divide the class into groups of 4 – 6 students.
Give each group a selection of survivor testimony provided by Yad Vashem to read and discuss. If possible, allow students to have access to, or have the presentation of images remain projected as they go through the testimonies. In these groups, the students will create a list of questions, concerns, and feelings that survivors bring up in the testimonies to present to the class.
As the groups present, collect their answers to be used in continued discussion. Were there common themes in survivor feelings, concerns, and questions of the future?
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.