Someone just asked me for a list of what I taught my boys about the Holocaust and since I was already compiling all those posts for her, I figured I’d write a post here and share them with you. There are so many resources available, and I used free ones almost exclusively.
First, I started slowly and by telling them that there are some bad things that happened a few years before we were born and that I wanted to teach them about these things so they would learn from others’ mistakes and not repeat them. I also wanted them to see how the German population followed Hitler without question and most didn’t even realize what he was doing. A culture under difficult circumstances will follow any leader, especially a charismatic one, even to their own destruction. I want to teach my boys to be very cautious of which leaders they follow, and, just as importantly, which leaders they elect.
I used as many library materials as I could find, and many travel shows as well. Since we use AppleTV we were able to utilize iTunes to find free shows documenting others’ travels to Germany and Poland. I made sure to gradually ease them into the ideas rather than just dump everything on them at once. (Preview everything before sharing with your children.) I told them that as they learned about this topic they would see things that are difficult to believe and might make them sad. I told them I expected them to be respectful of the people who were hurt and to be mature about it.
As our time drew closer to go to places where I felt they’d see graphic images in museums, I brought them close to me (literally, almost on my lap), and showed them one image at a time, letting them know that they could turn away whenever they wanted to. We had spent months, possibly a year (off and on), talking about how awful the Holocaust was so when they saw the pictures, it wasn’t their first encounter with the idea, just the first encounter with the images. When we went to Dachau, the concluding activity was a walk-through exhibit with larger-than-life images, some even more graphic than I had shown them at home. Before we entered I had told them they could look at what they wanted to, but if they felt uneasy, to walk to the edge of the room and just look out the window.
The following images show just how touched the boys were by what they were experiencing:
A very good place to start is with this book. It’s about two boys who lived during the Holocaust but it doesn’t have much about the Holocaust so it’s a great step into the topic.
Who can miss the Diary of Anne Frank? Must read. (There are many versions, even some that are more appropriate for younger children.)
We visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Their website is among the best in the world and allows a 3D walkthrough of the house. I found this to be a great resource.
The next day we visited The Hiding Place, which is the home of Corrie Ten Boom. It was great to show both sides of this… the Jewish side in hiding and the side of a family hiding Jews.
We watched this movie about Anne Frank.
Jewish Memorial Walk in Wiesbaden, Germany, the city we lived in for three years.
Visit to Nuremberg where Hitler had many parades and made many propaganda videos.
Visit to Dachau. The most poignant and challenging part of our education on the Holocaust. There are several links within this post.
The Candy Bomber. Such a fun story and there are some links in this post.
We visited the Eagle’s Nest. This was the most lighthearted stop on our visits. This was one of Hitler’s homes, although I think he was so afraid of heights that he didn’t go there often.
A few more fantastic posts by other authors about the Eagle’s Nest:
On my friend’s post requesting information about this topic, she and some of her friends mentioned the following resources that may be of use to this thread. I haven’t checked most of these out:
- Life is Beautiful.
- A documentary called Hilter’s Children.
- Holocaust museum.
- Someone Named Eva.
- Number the Stars (I read this when I was in school but forgot to use it with my boys.)