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
“My father’s name was Khaled Abdul-Wahab. He had a farm in Mahdia, which is a little town by the coast of Tunisia. And when the Germans occupied Tunisia, he learned that a family was threatened, a Jewish family. … So he came in the middle of the night to where they were hiding and took them to his farm where they stayed the whole occupation. And so it was a total of 24 people, different families, that were hidden in my father’s farm.”
“… because we were living all together in Tunisia—Jews, not Jews, and Italians, and French people, and Arabs. But the rest, we were Tunisians before being Muslims or Jews. Our first common link was we were Tunisian. We ate the same food, we had the same—shared a lot of things. … For him it was normal, and that’s all.”
“I’m sure he would have been just very happy to have this recognition. … Even the nomination is symbolically a great thing. And I hope it has an impact a little more than symbolic in people’s minds.”
“I want people to look at the face of reality even if it’s hard and to try to open your eyes. If you shut your eyes and say, “I don’t want to have nothing in common with these people,” you close the door to any dialogue, you know, and it’s finished. You don’t have any hope. If you open your heart, your mind, and your eyes to other people and say, “… I accept the things that will make us go and progress.””
“And my father, he would have said that his dream was to see his—these two people come back again and live again without these problems. … maybe I’m carrying that message. When your parents didn’t finish something… you have to do the unfinished work. So I carry my father’s, what he did, I carry it for the best.”
“Antisemitism, of course, matters. … I mean, it’s particularly a great matter to me because, you know, my whole family was killed for no other reason than I was born into a Jewish family.”
“You know even in the darkest times of my life, when I was in the camps, the slave labor concentration camps, you pinned your hopes on the slightest thing. You know if somebody just reached out to you, or put their arm around you, or if you got a little bigger portion of bread it was a blessing.”
“…I feel, you know, survival is an incredible privilege. To be free to have children, to have grandchildren, to walk without fear, to write, to do anything. But it’s also a very deep obligation.”
“It’s an entirely different war. A war which erupts any place. So, this is what is so terribly frightening and so sad--that a very small minority of fanatics could destroy the world. … [T]his is terribly painful, to see the most vicious and most horrible acts that have been committed on behalf of religion. And I am quite sure that this is not what God wants.”
“I do believe that we have to fight all kinds of intolerance. And, I think it hangs together being religious intolerance, racial intolerance, … And until the world learns that we all have the same hearts, you know, some a little kinder than others. And, I think this is why it is important to talk. To talk about it and to give people hope, you know.”
“We made friends among some of the Albanians. My mother met Mrs. Pilku and it’s the family Pilku who rescued us, saved us, hid us in their home during the German occupation.”
“She was German. She certainly was a sympathizer with the regime in Germany. Her father apparently had been one of the early supporters of Nazi Germany. And she had a rather large picture of Hitler framed in her living room.”
“Everything went smooth until the summer of 1943, when Germany occupied Albania. And at this point our lives became of course very much endangered. Since Mrs. Pilku was known to be German…German soldiers…walked in and out of the house. And we were introduced at all times as her family from Germany who were visiting with them in Albania wanting to get away from the bombardments…”
“…one day I remember that Mr. Pilku heard that a group of Jews they had built themselves a rowboat to leave Albania on these boats. …she immediately said, “We will take a walk along the beach, and if we encounter any German soldiers we’ll engage them in conversation and if need be invite them to the house for a cup of coffee.” And I remember going with them, and I remember doing this a number of nights.”
“… people have many complications. They have many orientations. … But I think we all have conflicts within ourselves. And at a time like this in such an upheaval in the world… that’s really what it was, a total upheaval, this is not a normal life at that point at all.”
“There were Arabs who collaborated with Nazis and with other European fascists and there were Arabs who refused to collaborate. And in this respect, Arabs were not that dissimilar than Europeans.”
“… the Holocaust is overwhelmingly a European story. It was spawned by Europeans, perpetrated by Europeans, and implemented principally on Jews and others in Europe. But there is an important and overlooked component of this in the Arab world, too.”
“… the war was over in this part of the world by mid-1943. And so they [the Nazis] weren’t able to implement their vision fully, but they made great strides toward this, incarcerating thousands of Jews in labor camps in Morocco and Algeria and Libya and Tunisia.”
“… Arabs played a role at every stage of this. They played a role at the height of government where you had Arab guards, Arab train engineers, Arab translators, Arabs going door to door with the SS in Tunisia identifying which houses were Jews, which houses were not Jews. At every stage, Arabs played a role. It only makes sense that there were some Arabs who did what they could to help, and even rescue and save Jews.”
“I received messages from people that just showed basic humanity, that showed how people may not have risked their lives, but they risked something that was close to them. These people will never be known. These heroes will never be known to history by their names. But I think it’s important to remember that this basic humanity, Arab to Jew, occurred at a time of extraordinary hardship, great persecution, that these sentiments of brotherhood existed. And they should be remembered and recognized for what they were.”
“I don’t think anybody thinks of themselves as a hero—it’s kind of a false-nomer, because I had a job to do. But you feel good that you’re able to do something to help people.”
“I was working out of Geneva, Switzerland, but living in France a good deal of the time, for the European Student Relief Fund. And we were trying to do something for students, who wanted to continue their studies.”
“Most of the students were Jewish, some in the camps, that is, the internment camps.”
“But eventually, later on in ’42, the Germans, they wanted all the Jews back to Germany, even though they had sent them there to southern France—about 100,000 Jews were sent to southern France. … they [the Germans] changed their mind and wanted them all back. They were taken back, and sent to places like Auschwitz. So we saved their lives from that point of view….”
“I grew up in a very spiritual, religious family…. So I think that all had an influence on me, to do something in a social manner, where you could help people. That’s what I wanted to do with my life. So it felt very good when you were able to succeed at it….And even though you can’t correct the whole major situation, you can do something to help individuals.”