Start of Main Content

Photo Activity

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

Download PowerPoint presentation template [PPTX, 4.40 MB]

Christopher Browning

“The Holocaust was not simply a sensational act of sadism by a few crazies in the Nazi regime. This was a bureaucratic, administrative process; it involved all facets of German society and German organizational life.”
“Racism was at the core of how they understood how the world worked. That basically, history was a struggle between races, and the outcome of history depended on which races won and which ones lost.”
“The Holocaust was a manmade event. People made decisions and people acted.”
“…we have to look closely at the perpetrators, both in terms of those who shaped policy and made decisions and in terms of those who implemented those decisions, who carried out the murder day after day, face to face, with their victims.”
“… once you start treating the perpetrators as human beings, then you are faced with that uncomfortable awareness that: Are they fundamentally different than I am? And, in that situation, what would I have done?”

Father Patrick Desbois

“When Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, mobile killing units, known as Einsatzgruppen, began moving from town to town, rounding up Jews for extermination.”
“Very frequently they tell us when we leave, ’Promise us, Father, that you will work to build a memorial for these people.’”
“Our motivation first is to establish the facts. Nobody knows how these people have been killed, and nobody knows where the corpses are. So it means that they have been completely thrown outside of humanity.”
“They were killing other people who have no gun. So the cartridges are one of the main proof, because we have to establish a proof of this genocide village after village. It’s not a camp, it’s a continent.”
“So you must imagine that in our continent, sooner or late, people...I would not say that they think that [the] Holocaust did not exist, but they begin to think, perhaps Jews exaggerate. Perhaps it’s an exaggeration of the Jewish people. So my job also is to establish definitively the proof so that nobody can discuss and say, ’It didn’t happen.’”

Gregory S. Gordon

“I think it’s important to let the world know that words kill. That they are an essential part of genocide. And that if you don’t prosecute the purveyors of these horrible messages, then you will definitely be looking at another genocide down the road.”
“Experts have referred to stages of genocide. And, it is absolutely essential to dehumanize the victims. And you can do that through images. You can do that through words.”
“…after a while, the population becomes anesthetized to the idea of eliminating this foreign entity. The radio, the newspaper, media in general, can be used at various points. And it was used in that way in Nazi Germany. And it was used that way in Rwanda.”
“Criminal incitement is not just a direct call in explicit terms to kill people. It rarely consists of that. It usually consists of more indirect calls that are understood by the listener as calls for killing or destruction.”
“We don’t want another genocide to take place. And I think from a truth-telling perspective, one of the important aspects of what the international criminal tribunals are doing is to make a record of what happened, so that future generations can study it. And when we see these red flags going up, when we see these warning signs, we have to act.”

John Mann

“The Jewish community is the canary in the cage for all of us, because the racists will never just stop with abusing the Jews. Once they’ve abused the Jews, if they feel they can get away with that, they’ll move on to another section of society, and then another, and another. And history has repeatedly proven that, first the Jews then the rest.”
“Antisemitism is worldwide. And so we see some extraordinary examples of countries without much of a Jewish population—or any Jewish population—in the lead in abusing Jews worldwide, and in recreating the old racist myths about the Jewish communities….And for those communities affected, often the smaller the community, the more isolated those communities in responding to antisemitism.”
“When you’re dealing with racism it’s always the case that the community directly affected has to take the lead. But it’s also appropriate that other communities should be in the vanguard of fighting racism. And that goes with antisemitism. This is a problem for all of us….It’s right and proper that we stand up and fight antisemitism wherever we see it. But it’s also in our vested self-interest to do so. Because eventually if we build the world based on conspiracy and xenophobia, that world will turn in on all of us.”

Sayana Ser

“We want to teach them about their own history and about the Holocaust, because I think if they know that genocide has happened in other places, they would not feel like they are the only ones that suffered.”
“I have picked a passage that I like. (speaking in Khmer) [Anne Frank] says that braveness and happiness is what the people need the most…. And we want to give them the message of Anne Frank’s diary and also want them to have courage.”
“When I was translating the book, I put myself like if I were Anne Frank, it must be very terrible to live in hiding.”
“And because this book tells a lot of things, it’s a way to understand about discrimination.”
“And the book has encouraged a lot; some also started writing their own diaries…the book can show the way for the reader to express their feelings….I think the book is playing an important role for everybody, to learn about compassion, about humankind. And giving hope for the future, and the continuing and the moving on.”