Holocaust Memorial Day – Distant Commemoration and Learning

In 2020, when commemorations were held to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, none of us were prepared for the level of online working that would commence a few weeks later. When we came together for Yom HaShoah, the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, the end of World War II, and to mark other events including Hiroshima, Kristallnacht, the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide and more, our meetings were online not in-person.

As many of us face strict lockdown restrictions in early 2021, Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January must this year be commemorated online. The Holocaust education programmes that usually complement events must all be produced as distant learning experiences. Taking a step away from research reflections, this blog post offers a range of recommended resources to support distant learning and memorialisation activities.

We will keep adding to this blog post as new content becomes available, do let us know if you’re doing something that can be added. We are only including web-based resources here, as they are accessible on most devices.

The Holocaust Educational Trust offers advice for teachers about age-appropriate content for primary and secondary pupils. It is worth starting here before planning activities. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance also provides guidelines about teaching and learning about the Holocaust.

Holocaust History

International Holocaust Memorial Day marks the liberation of Auschwitz on the 27th January. The State Museum has a variety of education and commemorative resources available. You can also take part in a virtual tour of the site.

University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education have created a series of online learning resources about the Holocaust.

Several institutions collaborated on the Google Arts and Culture exhibition Stories of the Holocaust. You can find a wide range of Holocaust-related exhibitions and collections on the platform too.

You can take a ‘digital glimpse’ inside Anne Frank’s House with the Museum’s 360 project.

Researchers at University College London have put together an exhibition ‘Compromised Identities’ that encourages visitors to think critically about how individuals became perpetrators.

You might think Second Life is historic now, but you can still access it and visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Kristallnacht exhibition here.

Learn more about Forgotten Victims: The Nazi Genocide of the Roma and Sinti in this virtual exhibition from the United Nation’s Outreach Programme on the Holocaust.

Terraforming.org have created an online graphic novel Esther about life in pre-war Serbia and Holocaust victims of the concentration camp at Sajmište.

The effects of the Holocaust were not only felt across Europe. We encourage learners, teachers and researchers to explore the impact it had beyond. The website of the Beau Bassin Memorial offers an introduction to the experience of Jewish refugees detained under British authority in Mauritius during World War II.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has also constructed a web page, which includes archival documents about the experiences of Polish Jews in the Shanghai Ghetto.

Reflections on Memory

Paul Salmons offers some reflections on how secure is Holocaust memory and what it means to learn about the Holocaust, beyond moral lessons. These are particularly pertinent questions given the visibility of antisemitic references to the Holocaust that circulated across the world from the images of the Capitol insurrection in January 2021.

You can explore how the Holocaust is commemorated in Argentina by booking onto an online tour of the Museo del Holocausto or in Australia, with a virtual tour of the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne (there is no need to book for this). There are a number of online tours available for Holocaust centers based in the US, one example is that of the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity center. Why not see if you local or national Holocaust museum or memorial site(s) have virtual tours by visiting their websites?

Listening to and working with Testimony

The USC Shoah Foundation provides the most extensive collection of digitised genocide testimonies in the world through its Visual History Archive. This is accompanied by a large number of resources, including IWitness, which allows students to edit together survivor testimony clips in meaningful ways, and an abbreviated version of the interactive biographies is available online, where students can pose questions to representations of survivors.

Gathering the Voices has just finished updating its website for Holocaust Memorial Day. They have extended their resources and now have a Podcast channel, a YouTube channel, and have just  created a new film on one of the  Gathering the Voices’ Association’s father. This film documents Martin Anson’s life: from growing up in Germany under Nazi persecution to his eventual escape and settling in Glasgow. 

Animation can provide a thought-provoking way to think about the affect of individual experience and giving testimony. I would recommend Silence and I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors.

Learning about other Genocides

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, UK, has a series of learning resources about different genocides. Facing History, Facing Ourselves also provide a range of resources that cover a number of genocides, and explore issues like journalism and witnessing.

The Visual History Archive includes testimonies from the Holocaust, ‘as well as the Armenian Genocide that coincided with World War I, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, the Cambodian Genocide of 1975-1979, the Guatemalan Genocide of 1978-1983, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and anti-Rohingya mass violence. It also includes testimonies about contemporary acts of violence against Jews.’

You can explore the Genocide Archive of Rwanda here.

Remembering Srebrenica provide written testimonies by survivors of the Bosnian Genocide. You can also ‘virtually’ visit the memorial site at Srebrenica.

Memorialisation Activities

As part of the University of Sussex’s Holocaust Memorial Day programme, we will be hosting a roundtable discussion with speakers from the Hebrew University, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Imperial War Museums, and Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial on Friday 5th February.

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