Using Literature to Teach About the Holocaust Sperling Kronberg Mack Holocaust Resource Center October, 2012 Susan Dubin 8 Principles for Selecting Books • Good books and stories are developmentally appropriate • Accompanying illustrations, art, photos are appropriate in content and tone • Good books are rooted in historical context and reflect historical reality • Good materials personalize the statistics, fostering empathy, compassion, involvement, and identification with victims and survivors • Good books feature rather than marginalize the Jewish experience and particular Jewish responses during the Shoah • Good books bring students from the Holocaust era in the reassuring present, giving hope to young readers • Good stories have the potential to motivate students to examine their own lives and behaviors and effect change where possible • Good books offer flexibility in the classroom Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust By Eve Bunting This unique introduction to the Holocaust encourages young children to stand up for what they think is right, without waiting for others to join them. In this allegory, the author's reaction to the Holocaust, the animals of the forest are carried away, one type after another, by the Terrible Things, not realizing that if perhaps they would all stick together and not look the other way, such terrible things might not happen. REFERENCE MATERIALS Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust. London: Michael Joseph, 1982. 316 black-and-white maps show "in chronological sequence, the destruction of each of the main Jewish communities of Europe, as well as acts of resistance and revolt, avenues of escape and rescue, and the fate of individuals." Gutman, The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 4 Volumes. Macmillan, 1990. An alphabetically arranged encyclopedia that deals in depth with “the sources and motivations” for the Holocaust. Spector, Shmuel, Editor. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 3 Volumes. New York University Press, 2001. An abridgement of a work published originally in Hebrew by Yad Vashem. It explores the lives and customs of more than 6,500 Jewish communities that thrived before the Holocaust. PRIMARY SOURCES Arad, Yitzhak, et al. Documents on the Holocaust. University of Nebraska Press and Yad Vashem, 1999. Selected sources on the destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union. “Echoes and Reflections” Multimedia Curriculum (ADL, Yad Vashem, USC Shoah Foundation) Student/Teacher Resource Center: http://www1.yadvashem.org/education/adl/index.htm Click on each lesson for links to photos, documents, artifacts Museum of Tolerance – Multimedia Learning Center: http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=gvKVLcMVIuG&b=35820 1 Primary source documents, memoirs and photographs The Nizkor Project: http://nizkor.org Nuremberg Trial records; Eichmann Trial records; extensive archive of documents and interviews regarding camps and perpetrators; Holocaust denial Never to Forget By Milton Meltzer Six million— a number impossible to visualize. Six million Jews were killed in Europe between the years 1933 and 1945. What can that number mean to us today? We are told never to forget the Holocaust, but how can we remember something so incomprehensible? We can think, not of the numbers, the statistics, but of the people. For the families torn apart, watching mothers, fathers, children disappear or be slaughtered, the numbers were agonizingly comprehensible. One. Two. Three. Often more. Here are the stories of thode people, recorded in letters and diaries, and in the memories of those who survived. Seen through their eyes, the horror becomes real. We cannot deny it—and we can never forget. ‘Based on diaries, letters, songs, and history books, a moving account of Jewish suffering in Nazi Germany before and during World War II.' EMIGRATION AND CHILDREN IN HIDING Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle A coming-of-age story and an unusual piece of Holocaust history, told in free verse. 13-year-old Daniel, a German refugee meets and then befriends a 12-year-old Cuban girl after his ship is allowed to dock in Havana. Their story is effectively told in alternating narratives. Winner of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teens. The Other Half of Life Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis by Kim Ablon Whitney Based upon the true story of the MS St. Louis, the story takes place after Kristallnacht and closely follows the fateful voyage of over 900 passengers who are bound for Cuba. The main character is fifteenyear-old, Thomas, whose father has been sent to Dachau, and whose non-Jewish mother places him on the ship for safety. The ship is eventually turned away at several countries' ports, and forced to return to European cities that will soon fall under Nazi domination. Winner of a 2009 National Jewish Book Award. A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck The story of two Viennese-Jewish sisters who are sent to safety during the Holocaust to an island off the coast of Sweden. The girls' treatments by their two foster families vary but both try to convert them to Christianity. Hoping to be reunited with their parents soon, the girls' stay lasts indefinitely, and the story explores the emotions of children who endure uncertainty far from home. Translated from the Swedish, this is the first in a series of books about the sisters' life on the island. Guardian Angel House by Kathy Clark Guardian Angel House is the nickname given to a convent run by the Sisters of Charity in Budapest that sheltered over 120 Jewish children during World War Two. Told from the point of view of twelve-year-old Susan, this is a story of survival, of growing up without family during childhood and adolescence, of Jewish children living in a protective and loving Catholic environment which is foreign to them, of mutual respect between people of different religions, of a young woman forced to learn courage at an early age. Based on the true story of the author's mother and aunt, it is historical fiction at its best. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer By Irene Gut Opdyke, with Jennifer Armstrong Recounts the experiences of the author who, as a young Polish girl, hid and saved Jews during the Holocaust. Number the Stars By Lois Lowry As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war. Annexed By Sharon Dogar In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter's point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you're being written about in Anne's diary, day after day? What's it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting. As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them? Then By Morris Gleitzman Felix and Zelda have escaped the train to the death camp, but where do they go now? They're two runaway kids in Nazi-occupied Poland. Danger lies at every turn of the road. With the help of a woman named Genia and their active imaginations, Felix and Zelda find a new home and begin to heal, forming a new family together. But can it last? Morris Gleitzman's winning characters will tug at readers' hearts as they struggle to survive in the harsh political climate of Poland in 1942. Their lives are difficult, but they always remember what matters: family, love, and hope. A 2012 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers Anne Frank and Me By Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld In one moment Nicole Burns's life changes forever. The sound of gunfire at an Anne Frank exhibit, the panic, the crowd, and Nicole is no longer Nicole. Whiplashed through time and space, she wakes to find herself a privileged Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. No more Internet diaries and boy troubles for Nicole-now she's a carefree Jewish girl, with wonderful friends and a charming boyfriend. But when the Nazi death grip tightens over France, Nicole is forced into hiding, and begins a struggle for survival that brings her face to face with Anne Frank. Alicia : My Story By Alicia Appelbaum A young girl's experience of the Nazi pogrom in her Polish hometown is related with an immediacy undimmed by time in her autobiography. In 1942, the author and her family undergo a brutal separation. Thirteen-year-old Alicia escapes her captors, fleeing through fields and woods, encountering fellow refugees and occasionally finding safe harbors. Although she sees her mother's wanton murder and endures physical and mental deprivation, the teenager is supported by faith in family and in the goodness of people. Capable of rallying others, she eventually heads a group who settle in Palestine. In 1949, she marries an American in Haifa and moves to the United States. The Journey Back By Johanna Reiss The Second World War is over. Annie and her sister Sini, who have been hiding from the Germans for almost three years, are free again. They leave the hamlet of Usselo and the Oosterveld family that had sheltered them and return to their hometown. Their father also survived as did their sister, Rachel. The Journey Back tells of what can happen to members of a family, Jews in this case, when reunion demonstrates they no longer know each other. The book speaks for all people at all times and is as moving as its predecessor, The Upstairs Room. GHETTOS Sacred Shadows By Maxine Rose Schur, Paul Sann After the death of her father in World War I, Lena finds herself a German and a Jew in an unforgiving country. Her mother says conditions will improve but Lena suspects this belief is not only wrong...it's dangerous. When her German hometown becomes part of Poland after World War I, Lena, a young German Jew, struggles to come to terms with the antiSemitism and anti-German hatred that seems to be growing around her. Friedrich By Hans Richter A young German boy recounts the fate of his best friend, a Jew, during the Nazi regime. This book explores the world before the Shoah and seeks to show the disintegration of normal life for the Jews. The Stars Will Guide You by Miriam Walfish Rica Levi, 15, and her brother Lelio, 8, are instructed by their widowed father to flee their home in the Rome ghetto in 1943. In the ensuing months and years, they don't know what has happened to him and fear the worst. In four sections, the book describes the children's hiding by Catholics in Narola, Italy; the liberation of Rome by the Allies and their return to find their ransacked and defaced apartment; the search for family after the war; and, finally, their reunion with their father. Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Sepetys Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive? The Island on Bird Street By Uri Orlev During World War II a Jewish boy is left on his own for months in a ruined house in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he must learn all the tricks of survival under constantly life-threatening conditions. Milkweed By Jerry Spinelli He's a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham. He's a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He's a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He's a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He's a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he's a boy who realizes it's safest of all to be nobody. Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable -- Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II -- and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan. Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi By David Chotjewitz, translated by Doris Orgel All his life, Daniel has been hiding. He just doesn't know it. Until the spring of 1933, he's enjoyed a comfortable German boyhood with his well-to-do family, in school, at soccer. Daniel's even enjoyed jail — for one exciting night — with his best friend, Armin, after they've been caught painting a swastika on a wall in the hated Communist section of Hamburg. In their cell, the boys cut their wrists, mingle blood, and swear lasting brotherhood. Then, a thunderclap: Daniel learns to his horror that his mother is Jewish, that he is therefore half-Jewish and, in Aryan eyes, halfhuman. The Berlin Boxing Club By Robert Sharenow Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he's never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don't care that Karl's family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth. Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself. But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way? The Upstairs Room By Johanna Reis When the German army occupied Holland, Annie de Leeuw was eight years old. Because she was Jewish, the occupation put her in grave danger-she knew that to stay alive she would have to hide. Fortunately, a Gentile family, the Oostervelds, offered to help. For two years they hid Annie and her sister, Sini, in the cramped upstairs room of their farmhouse. Most people thought the war wouldn't last long. But for Annie and Sini — separated from their family and confined to one tiny room — the war seemed to go on forever. The Endless Steppe By Esther Hautzig In the bitter desolation of Siberia, Esther and her family fight to stay alive. It is June 1941. The Rudomin family has been arrested by the Russians. They are capitalists—enemies of the people. Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia. For five years, Esther and her family live in exile, weeding potato fields and working in the mines, struggling for enough food and clothing to stay alive. Only the strength of family sustains them and gives them hope for the future. To Live and Fight Another Day: The Story of a Jewish Partisan Boy by Bracha Weisbarth An exciting novel based on the experiences of the author's family during the Holocaust. The main character is her brother, Benny, who led the family out of the ghetto before a Nazi "Final Aktion" and then into the forests, where they eventually joined partisans fighting the Nazis. Uncle Misha’s Partisans By Yuri Suhl Twelve year old Mitek comes home after his violin lesson to find that his family has been killed by Hitler's death squads. Mitek runs away and finds a group of armed Jewish partisans led by a man named Uncle Misha. He is met by Yoshke and Berek, two partisans who at first refuse to believe he is Jewish. However Mitek tells them that his family hid under the guise of Christians until they were outed, he goes back to camp under his birth name -- Motele. Once at the partisan camp, Yoshke takes Motele under his wing. Soon Motele is allowed to go on a mission against the Nazis. CONCENTRATION CAMPS The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman In post-World War II Europe, a struggling American ventriloquist called The Great Freddie gets an offer of help with his act from a dybbuk, the ghost of a boy who was killed in the Holocaust. The dybbuk speaks for Freddy so that his ineptitude as a ventriloquist isn't visible and in gaining a voice, the dybbuk is able to speak out against the murder of himself and millions of others by the Nazis. Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award. Mara's Stories: Glimmers in the Darkness by Gary Schmidt In the night and fog of a concentration camp, women and children gather at night to listen to stories told by a prisoner named Mara, the daughter of a rabbi. The haunting stories are adapted from Jewish lore and modern Jewish literature. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Death himself is the omnipresent commentator in this compelling novel set in Germany during World War II. Genial as he muses on human existence, Death is sometimes frightened at the extent of human cruelty. Germany under Hitler was the epicenter of cruelty, as shown through several years in the life of a German child, the titular "book thief," her foster family, friends, and the town near Munich where she lives. These "good German" characters are earthy, flawed, and unforgettable. And while Death (always) has the final word, it is to say "I am haunted by humans." For high school students and up, this book is not to be missed. Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award. I Have Lived a Thousand Years By Livia Bitton-Jackson A graphic narrative describes what happens to a 13-year-old Jewish girl when the Nazis invade Hungary in 1944. Includes a brief chronology of the Holocaust. The author describes her experiences during World War II when she and her family were sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. We Are Witnesses: the Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust By Jacob Boas (editor) Jewish teenagers David, Yitzhak, Moshe, Eva, and Anne all kept diaries and were all killed in Hitler's death camps. These are their stories, in their own words. Author Jacob Boas, who was born in the same camp to which Anne Frank was sent, ends by discussing her famous diary. Looking back at the other four through Anne, and at Anne with fresh eyes after the others, we see the largest truth they all left for us: Hitler could kill millions, but he could not destroy the human spirit. These stark accounts of how five young people faced the worst of human evil are a testament, and an inspiration, to the best in the human soul. The Devil’s Arithmetic By Jane Yolen Hannah thinks tonight's Passover Seder will be the same as always. Little does she know that this year she will be mysteriously transported into the past where only she knows the horrors that await. Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland. I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree By Laura Hillman In the spring of 1942 Hannelore received a letter from Mama at her school in Berlin, Germany—Papa had been arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Six weeks later he was sent home; ashes in an urn. She made a decision: She would go home and be deported with her family. Despite the horrors she faced in eight labor and concentration camps, Hannelore met and fell in love with a Polish POW named Dick Hillman. Oskar Schindler was their one hope to survive. Schindler had a plan to take eleven hundred Jews to the safety of his new factory in Czechoslovakia. Weeks later Hannelore found herself, alone, outside the gates of Auschwitz, pushed toward the smoking crematoria. I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree is the remarkable true story of one young woman's nightmarish coming-of-age. But it is also a story about the surprising possibilities for hope and love in one of history's most brutal times. The Search By Eric Heuvel Esther remembers her own experience of the Holocaust as a Jewish girl living in Amsterdam, and recounts to her grandson Daniel and his friend Jeroen how she escaped from the Nazis and survived by going into hiding in the countryside. Her parents were not so lucky. Esther knows they were sent to a concentration camp and died there, and with Daniel’s help she embarks on a search to discover what happened to them during the last months of their lives. After tracking down an old friend who now lives in Israel, Esther finally learns the shocking story of how her parents met their fates at Auschwitz. Sequel to A Family Secret If I Should Die Before I Wake By Han Nolan Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes. Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II. Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman's survival through the Holocaust and another's journey out of hatred and self-loathing. After the War By Carol Matas After being released from Buchenwald at the end of World War II, 15-yearold Ruth risks her life to lead a group of children across Europe to Palestine. Surviving Hitler By Andrea Warren "Think of it as a game, Jack. Play the game right and you might outlast the Nazis." Caught up in Hitler's Final Solution to annihilate Europe's Jews, fifteen-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is torn from his family and thrown into the nightmarish world of the concentration camps. Here, simple existence is a constant struggle, and Jack must learn to live hour to hour, day to day. Despite intolerable conditions, he resolves not to hate his captors and vows to see his family again. But even with his strong will to survive, how long can Jack continue to play this life-anddeath game? The Cage By Ruth Sender From the German invasion of Poland in 1939 to the liberation of her concentration camp in 1945, the author chronicles an adolescence shaped by the horrors of the Holocaust but strengthened by the force of her own will. A teenage girl recounts the suffering and persecution of her family under the Nazis, in a Polish ghetto, during deportation, and in a concentration camp. Tunes For Bears To Dance To By Robert Cormier A masterful portrayal of hatred, prejudice and manipulation that challenges readers to examine how they would behave in the face of evil. Henry meets and befriends Mr. Levine, an elderly Holocaust survivor, who is carving a replica of the village where he lived and which was destroyed in the war. Henry's friendship with Mr. Levine is put to the test when his prejudiced boss, Mr. Hairston, asks Henry to destroy Mr. Levine's village. Eleven-year-old Henry escapes his family's problems by watching the woodcarving of Mr. Levine, an elderly Holocaust survivor, but when Henry is manipulated into betraying his friend he comes to know true evil. Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust By Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun Gripping and inspiring, these true stories of bravery, terror, and hope chronicle nine different children's experiences during the Holocaust. These are the true-life accounts of nine Jewish boys and girls whose lives spiraled into danger and fear as the Holocaust overtook Europe. In a time of great horror, these children each found a way to make it through the nightmare of war. Some made daring escapes into the unknown, others disguised their true identities, and many witnessed unimaginable horrors. But what they all shared was the unshakable belief in-- and hope for-- survival. Fireflies in the Dark By Susan Goldman Rubin Rubin briefly profiles Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, a Bauhaus-trained art therapist who brought art supplies with her when she was deported from Prague to the Terezin concentration camp and then gave art lessons to the children there. "The children's paintings, crisply reproduced in color and briefly analyzed, and their poems are poignant testimony of a tragic history," noted PW. I Never Saw Another Butterfly By Hana Volavkova A total of 15,000 children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years 1942-1944; less than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their courage and optimism, their hopes and fears.