Genocide, Holocaust and Teaching Traumatic Topics: Resources for Teaching and Learning

Published on April 26, 2022

Learning, researching and teaching about genocide, the Holocaust and the current Russian invasion of Ukraine reminds community members of the importance of continuing to include the too many examples of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries. We may feel the trauma of this work and try to address how students can navigate these difficult images, records and topics.

January 27 is the International Remembrance Day for the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah will be observed this week from sundown April 27 until nightfall, April 28.  Teachers and educators across the land have faced many challenges over the last two years and in particular over the past several months from conflict and violence taking place locally, nationally and abroad. 

Do you have other suggestions for works that could be included on this list? We’d love to hear them! Let us know by tagging @CndHistAssoc on Twitter and using the hashtag #CHATeachingResourcesChat

Museum Exhibits and Resources for Classroom Engagement

Montreal Holocaust Museum

Digital Museum of Canada “Building New Lives: Stories of Holocaust survivors’ immigration to Canada.”  Montreal Holocaust Museum, 2018. https://www.digitalmuseums.ca/funded-projects/building-new-lives-stories-of-holocaust-survivors-immigration-to-canada/ 

This interactive site, includes testimony from twenty survivors, interactive maps that can support learning about survivors in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto and other cities once survivors were settled in several communities and an interactive timeline.

The Montreal Holocaust Museum, https://museeholocauste.ca/en/ provides resources for primary, and secondary activities. The museum also provides access to additional tools for teaching specific topics like Hana’s Suitcase, Exploring the Evidence, The Heart of Aushwitz and Night of Broken Glass. https://museeholocauste.ca/en/reserve-a-pedagogical-activity/ 

Montreal Holocaust Museum, “United Against Genocide: Understand, question, prevent” Virtual Exhibition.  “This exhibition invites you to learn about and reflect on genocide as a crime that can be prevented. Learning about genocide enables us to understand that it can and must be stopped.” http://genocide.mhmc.ca/en/ 

Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre

-----  “In Their Own Words:  Canadian Holocaust survivor memories.”  This site is curated from over 1200 testimonies in the Canadian Collection and relates to themes that address camps, deportation, ghetto, post-war conditions, living under a false identity, liberation, escape, resistance and the Kristallnach Pogrom. https://intheirownwords.net/canadian-survivors

The education centre also provides educational guides and lesson plans for all levels of learning. https://intheirownwords.net/educational-guide 

The Brady Resource Kit is an online resource that includes a Teacher Guide and PowerPoint as well as student worksheets. https://www.holocaustcentre.com/bradyresourcekit 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

This museum, located in Washington, DC provides access to online teaching and learning resources as well as detailed guidelines and teaching the Holocaust and developed lesson plans and training materials, organized by theme that can be used in classrooms.

Fundamentals of Teaching the Holocaust: https://www.ushmm.org/teach/fundamentals 

Teaching Materials by Topic: https://www.ushmm.org/teach/teaching-materials 

Topics include: The Holocaust, Americans and the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Racism, Books and Literature, Nazism and Jim Crow, Primary Sources and the Museum’s Collection, Propaganda and Roles of Individuals.

Primary Sources and the Museum’s Collection provides educators with resources that will support learning about diaries as primary sources, first person accounts, using photographs and using survivor testimony.  https://www.ushmm.org/teach/teaching-materials/primary-sources-collections 

The Vancouver Holocaust Museum (VHEC)

This museum is a teaching museum, “...devoted to Holocaust-based anti-racism education.”  The website provides access to teaching guides, discovery kits, and book sets for students in grades six to twelve. https://www.vhec.org/educational-resources/ 

“Echoes and Reflections: A Multimedia Curriculum of the Holocaust” January 12, 2011. https://activehistory.ca/2011/01/echoes-and-reflections-a-multimedia-curriculum-on-the-holocaust/ 

Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS – CHORN), Concordia University

This Centre has extensive resources, training guides and readings related to research ethics in this field.  See the work of Steve High, “Research Ethics” that outlines the core ethical principles of informed consent, the mitigation of harm and the right of withdrawal.” https://storytelling.concordia.ca/resources/ethics/#toggle-id-1 

Readings that will support teaching and learning:

The Centre lists resources from 2003 to 2021, related to centre specific projects, graduate theses, books, monographs and edited collections and journal articles.

----- “The Living Archives of Rwandan Exiles and Genocide Survivors in Canada” https://storytelling.concordia.ca/projects-item/living-archives/ 

Linked to this page are links to resources for the genocide in Rwanda: https://pagerwanda.ca/ 

----- “L’Atlas des récits de vie rwandais : Cartographier les récits pour mieux les écouter.” https://storytelling.concordia.ca/projects-item/latlas-des-recits-de-vie-rwandais-cartographier-les-recits-pour-mieux-les-ecouter/ 

Blogs and Readings

Clifford, Jim. “The Polish Government, the Holocaust and Jan Grabowski.” October 3, 2016. https://activehistory.ca/2016/10/the-polish-government-the-holocaust-and-jan-grabowski/ 

Douglas, Jennifer, Alexandra Alisauskas, and Devon Mordell. 2019. “‘Treat Them With the Reverence of Archivists’: Records Work, Grief Work, and Relationship Work in the Archives”. Archivaria 88 (November), 84-120. https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13699

Drachewych, Oleska.  “Putin’s War on Ukraine and on History.”  March 1, 2022. https://activehistory.ca/2022/03/putins-war-on-ukraine-and-history/ 

Duff, Wendy, Jefferson Sporn, and Emily Herron. 2019. “Investigating the Impact of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada”. Archivaria 88 (November), 122-61. https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13701

Eidinger, Andrea. “The Historical is Personal: Learning and Teaching Traumatic History” January 19, 2017. https://activehistory.ca/2017/01/the-historical-is-personal-learning-and-teaching-traumatic-histories/ 

Hall, Dylan and Phillips, Chris Chang-Yen. “With Intent to Destroy a Group: Genocides Past and Present in Canada.”  January 10, 2022.  https://activehistory.ca/2022/01/with-intent-to-destroy-a-group-genocides-past-and-present-in-canada/ 

Hannah, Kaiti. “Say Cheese? The Dilemma of Photography at Traumatic Heritage Sites.”  September 14, 2018. https://activehistory.ca/2018/09/say-cheese/ 

Nathan, Lisa P., Elizabeth Shaffer, and Maggie Castor. 2015. “Stewarding Collections of Trauma: Plurality, Responsibility, and Questions of Action”. Archivaria 80 (November), 89-118. https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13545

Rück, Daniel and Deacon, Valerie. “The Eighth State of Genocide” July 4, 2019. https://activehistory.ca/2019/07/the-eighth-stage-of-genocide/ 

Wright, Kirsten, and Nicola Laurent. 2021. “Safety, Collaboration, and Empowerment: Trauma-Informed Archival Practice”. Archivaria 91 (June), 38-73. https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13787

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