This activity is designed to help students think more deeply about what it means to be an outsider. Using quotations from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism series, students portray their thoughts and feelings about a quotation through photographs selected from the Museum’s Photo Archive database. Some preselected quotations are provided below, but students may choose their own from the episodes on this theme.
After selecting photos, students will write an essay explaining their selections. The essay can examine some of the following questions:
How does what this person discusses in the present relate back to the Holocaust?
- What about the photos you chose demonstrates this?
Do the photos that you chose represent abstract feelings, concrete events, or a combination of the two?
- If you are matching images with emotions evoked from some of the quotations, whose emotions are you using? Your own? The victims or perpetrators? What emotions do you think the interviewee feels?
Have you interpreted something in a way that another person may interpret differently?
- Is such interpretation subjective or objective? Explain your response.
- Is it difficult to put images to words, especially someone else’s words?
Students then create a PowerPoint presentation of the quotations and photos together. See an example of such a PowerPoint using Michael Chabon’s Voices on Antisemitism episode
“If you look at some of the cartoons that are being used against Israel, against Israeli leaders and supporters of Israel, and most recently against me, the propaganda effort has changed. And instead of a conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, there is an attempt to dehumanize Israel and to demonize Israel.”
“…Holocaust denial is increasing. Holocaust minimization is increasing. Holocaust comparativization is increasing. And education is critically important. When a Holocaust denier speaks on a college or university campus, I see that as an educational moment, as an opportunity to educate students, and instead of trying to ban the speaker, respond and educate.”
“It’s good to be critical of Israeli policies, just like it’s good to be critical of American policies. I’m no less a patriot because I’m critical of the Iraq war or other American policies. And I’m no less a Zionist because I’m critical of many Israeli policies. Even criticism of Zionism is perfectly acceptable intellectually. It’s the double standard, the hyper-criticism, the unwillingness to find anything decent in Israel, that begins to blur the lines between criticism of Israel the state, and criticism of Israel, the Jew among the states.”
“It’s appalling how irresponsible most American academics have been in the face of this well-organized campaign to turn our current generation of college students and our future leaders against Israel and against Jewish interests and values. We have the responsibility to stop it. We have the resources to stop it. We have the ability to stop it. And if we fail to respond to hate speech, it’s our fault.”
“I was chosen to represent Germany in the Olympics. And I was on the Olympic team from 1934 until 1936, until they kicked me off. I was allowed to compete three times in those two years. And I beat them every time.”
“And I came back to Germany to horrible conditions. Jews were not allowed in restaurants, in movies, in whatever. And even though I was a member of the German Olympic Women’s Team, I was not allowed in a stadium. I couldn’t practice.”
“This was all propaganda, that I was a Jew and I was allowed to compete.”
“I was so afraid every day of my life. And at the same time I wanted to beat them so badly it was unbelievable.”
“It was a not only a physical, but a moral victory that a Jew could do better than all the Germans combined. Even today it’s a great satisfaction to me, somehow. I don’t know why.”
“To find the stories about what was happening to the Jews of Europe would have taken work and effort that I don’t think most Americans were willing to make about a foreign minority group…I mean this was happening to some group that was very distant and very different and in order for them to care about it, I think it needed to be brought to their attentions.”
“I mean there weren’t in the newspapers, as you might expect, these heart-wrenching accounts of people who were living their lives in Düsseldorf or whatever, and then found themselves in the Lodz ghetto, and then found themselves being shipped to a concentration camp.”
“…was a story about Treblinka. And it described exactly what happened to Jews as they were herded into the gas chambers—first women and children, and then the men. And it’s very detailed.”
“I think it is a journalist’s responsibility to go out on a limb to get people to pay attention to a story about the murder of six million people.”
“…I was really hoping that at the Times or elsewhere, I would find a hero—that there would be one person who was crusading, and even if he or she did not succeed, this would have been their mission during this period…And I didn’t really find anyone like that…So the question is always: what do you fight about? what stories? what issues?”
“When you play games where the object is to hurt the other group, and when the songs that you sing validate that, when the cartoons and the commercials become central to a kind of one-group hegemony…you know, is it propaganda? Yes. And not only that, the most effective and sneaky form of propaganda.”
“If you had to come up with one word to describe the objects that we have and similar objects, that word would be propaganda. When I used to think of propaganda I thought of it as leaflets and posters…And then it hit me one day that an ashtray with a caricatured image of a member of an ethnic group can be as much propaganda as a leaflet or poster or print.”
“…I think the most effective propaganda is when people don’t realize that that is what is going on, when they think they’re just playing a game or just using an ashtray. When you reduce hatred to game playing, you give a level of legitimacy to it that is mind boggling.”
“I think that systematically disseminating information that defames and belittles others actually belittles and degrades our entire society.”
“I think that antisemitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia…I think those things undermine democracy. I think they make of democracy a lie…as long as we have these “us versus thems,” and as long as people are hurt in our society and others think that’s their problem, then we undermine this nation. So the trick is, is to figure out a way to get people that are not themselves directly hurt to believe that they are a part of the same “We.” …I’ve spent my life trying to…make the “We” bigger.”
“…what we see a lot of is propaganda that begins in hate groups, but that makes its way out into the mainstream through a variety of channels and ultimately, at least in the worst cases, really affects political debate in this country.”
“People are angry. They don’t know quite who to blame for the way the world is changing. They think to themselves, “This is not the country or the world that my forefathers built.” … must be the fault of those people who are moving in down the block who don’t look like me…kind of a classic sort of scapegoating.”
“… we try very strongly to use facts in order to battle the distortions of these groups and the echoes of those distortions in the larger mainstream political discourse.”
“But more and more the large majority of hate groups in this country have essentially been Nazified.”