Pre–World War II European Jewish Life Photo Project
RESOURCES AND HANDOUTS: MATERIALS USED
- Project assignment sheet that gives instruction for each step
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Teacher Guide for Daniel's Story, "How to Read a Photograph," page 5
- Computers with Internet access
- www.ushmm.org Web site: Photo Archives and Holocaust Learning Center
- Large classroom map of World War II Europe
LESSON NARRATIVE Day 1–2: Finding photos, analysis, and town research
In class, students brainstorm a list of words they associate with "typical" or "normal" daily life, as they know it, and then we share those lists in class. Project instructions are handed out and explained, and students are asked to transfer the "brainstormed" list of words (to use as keywords in searching the archives) to the back of that paper to have at their fingertips.
Students will now spend two days during class time using computers to access and research two photos of pre–World War II Jewish life in Europe. It is important to note the locales of photos and years in which photos were taken to determine whether they depict life before the Nazi occupation of that country, and, if so, note that life was therefore "normal."
Most students will ask the teacher to help with this aspect, but they can also find out on their own; additionally, students will search through the photo archives until they find "just the right one" for themselves. Students are then to copy and paste each photo, the date it was taken, and its locale (not the caption, however) onto a new word document and print. After students have found and analyzed the photos using the worksheets provided, they should begin researching the town or city of one of the photos they collected by answering the following questions. Research is due on Day 3.
- How large was the town’s/city's Jewish population and how long had Jews been living there?
- What was Jewish life/culture in that town/city like prior to the German invasion?
- Where is or was that town/city located?
- When and how did the town/city come under Nazi rule (timeline)?
- What was the fate of this particular town's/city’s Jews during the Holocaust?
For homework, students are to look through their own family photos to find at least one to bring in and share with the class that relates in some way to one of the photos they have researched. I do not tell them that they will be bringing in their own photo when they begin searching for photos, so they choose photos that strike them in some way, rather than ones for which they know they may find a match at home. Also as part of their homework, students are to write an organized response to the following questions concerning their photos:
- In examining your researched photos, what evidence suggests that life was “normal” or “ordinary” for the Jews prior to the German occupation?
- What did you discover as you looked through your own family’s photos in relation to those that you had researched? Which one did you choose to share? How does it relate and why?
- What do these photos, both yours and the researched ones, tell you about Jewish life in Europe before World War II?