This educational module aims to help students think more deeply about what it means to be an outsider. Using material from the Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism, the module:
- Illustrates the existence and broad impact of contemporary antisemitism;
- Demonstrates the ongoing relevance of the Holocaust to law, faith, the arts, and other areas;
- Introduces, punctuates, or ends sections of study; as homework or in-class listening.
- Episodes from the Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism series relevant to being an outsider;
- Rationale, which explains why this theme is important today;
- History section, which connects the Holocaust to the theme;
- Questions for Discussion or Writing;
- Activities for students; and
- Resources for further information and material.
Historian Christopher Browning has written extensively about how ordinary Germans became murderers during the Holocaust. Listen to Browning explain why examining the perpetrators' history matters. Learn more
Father Patrick Desbois
In 2004, Father Patrick Desbois set out across Ukraine to locate the sites of mass killings of Jews during the Holocaust. He is motivated in part by the memory of his own grandfather, a French soldier who was deported to Ukraine by the Nazis. Learn more
Gregory S. Gordon
Gregory Gordon helped to prosecute the landmark "media" cases in Rwanda–where hate speech, broadcast over the radio, was directly linked to the genocide of the Tutsi people. Gordon believes that the lessons learned in Rwanda could be applied in Iran and elsewhere, to prevent these incitement tactics from taking hold. Learn more
Although there is not a single Jewish person living in the area British Member of Parliament John Mann represents, he believes it absolutely proper that he serves as chair of the British Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism. Learn more
Sayana Ser was born in Cambodia in 1981, two years after the fall of dictator Pol Pot. Today, Ser works to help her country heal from that genocide. As part of that effort, Ser decided to translate The Diary of Anne Frank into her native language of Khmer. Learn more
Preventing and responding to genocide is of critical importance today. Since the Holocaust, genocide has occurred in horrifying instances, in Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur, and other places, making it necessary for people everywhere to unite to prevent such destruction. Voices on Antisemitism is designed to bring together a variety of people from different backgrounds to comment on why antisemitism matters today. Antisemitism, like other forms of hatred, has caused mass violence and has the potential to lead to devastating outcomes. Specific examples of podcasts dealing with this topic are Gregory S. Gordon, who helped prosecute the landmark “media” cases in Rwanda, where hate speech, broadcast over the radio, was directly linked to the genocide of the Tutsi people; Sayana Ser, who translated The Diary of Anne Frank into her native language Khmer to help fellow Cambodians deal with the aftermath of genocide; and, John Mann, who believes it absolutely proper that he serves as chair of the British Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, although there is not a single Jewish person living in the area he represents.
The word “genocide” is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Raphael Lemkin devoted his life to stopping the spread of genocide. Lemkin, a Jewish lawyer born in 1900 in Poland, fled Europe when the German army invaded and eventually joined the US War Department as an analyst. In his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin coined the word “genocide.” On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
- How will Sayana Ser’s work help her people in dealing with the aftermath of the Cambodian genocide?
- Gregory S. Gordon and Christopher Browning both discuss how “ordinary men” committed violent acts contributing to genocide.
- Was it easy for these people to carry out such acts?
- Historically, what have been the motivations for committing violent acts and contributing to genocide?
- John Mann states “the Jewish community is the canary in the cage for all of us, because the racists will never just stop with abusing the Jews.” What does he mean by this statement?
- Compare and contrast this quote with Martin Niemöller’s poem below.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
- What motivates Father Patrick Desbois to carry out his projects in Eastern Europe?
- How does the work of these people help us to understand genocide today?
- What can you do to prevent genocide?
Create your own podcast interview: Students discuss what they think they (or the US) can do to prevent current genocide.
- Group Activity: In groups, students examine in-depth what the individuals in the Voices on Antisemitism episodes are doing in response to genocide.
- Photo Activity: Using quotations from the podcast series, students portray their thoughts and feelings about that quotation through photographs selected from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Photo Archive database.
- Press Conference Activity: Students simulate a press conference in which they present on what the person assigned to them is doing in response to genocide.
- Confront Genocide (A website where you can watch eyewitness testimony, find out who is at risk today, write your own pledge to take action, and much more.)
- Genocide Prevention Task Force (Works toward the goal of generating concrete recommendations to enhance the US government’s capacity to recognize and respond to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities.)
- Hate Speech and Group-Targeted Violence: The Role of Speech in Violent Conflicts (PDF) (Summary of key findings from the “Speech, Power, Violence Seminar.”)
- Mapping Initiatives: Crisis in Darfur (In partnership with Google Earth, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is releasing compelling new visual evidence of the destruction in Darfur.)
- Past Revisited: Reflections on the Study of the Holocaust and Contemporary Antisemitism (PDF) (Steven Zipperstein’s study of antisemitism and the Holocaust within the context of modern Jewish history.)
- Staring Genocide in the Face (Photo commentary on Sudan by Jerry Fowler, former Staff Director, Committee on Conscience at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.)
Holocaust Encyclopedia articles:
- Coining a Word and Championing a Cause: the story of Raphael Lemkin
- The Crime of Genocide
- Genocide Timeline
- Einsatzgruppen (Mobile Killing Units)
- Incitement to Genocide in International Law
- International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
- Rwanda: The First Conviction for Genocide
- What is Genocide?
Additional Online Resources Related to Responding to Genocide
- Documentation Center of Cambodia (external link) (Documents the crimes and atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era by recording and preserving the history of the Khmer Rouge regime.)
- Office of War Crimes Issues (external link) (Advises the Secretary of State and formulates US policy in response to atrocities committed throughout the world.)
- Omid: A Memorial in Defense of Human Rights (external link) (An electronic database of human rights violations in Iran since 1979.)
- Save Darfur (external link) (A coalition that works at inspiring action, raising awareness, and speaking truth to power on behalf of the people of Darfur.)
- Yahad-In Unum (external link) (Leads research about the Jewish victims of the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe during the Second World War.)