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Children of the Holocaust Discussion Guide
Before Reading

Note: Students will find the following three stories emotionally disturbing. They are meant to be read by children of intermediate and high school levels. Teachers should allow sufficient time for young people to process these heart-wrenching readings.

Explain to the class that for many years after the war, the children of the Holocaust remained silent. They built new lives in new places and tried to forget how they had narrowly escaped annihilation at the hands of the Nazis. Still, after 50 years -- after raising families and enjoying successful careers -- they have discovered that they can no longer be silent. As the youngest and last survivors of the Holocaust, they feel compelled to bear witness.

Two of the stories in this booklet do not only speak of a monstrous past, they also tell us about heroism and rescue. Krystyna's family was saved by simple sewer workers, and Lili was placed in a convent by Father Bruno Reynders, a Benedictine monk who saved close to 400 Jewish children in Belgium.

To set the stage for the materials that follow, ask the students the following questions:

  1. What elements do children need to succeed (e.g., good home, loving parents, stable environment, praise to build self-esteem)?
  2. What are some vital physical components and emotional components?
  3. What might be the immediate consequences of depriving children of these elements?
  4. What might some of the long-term consequences be?

Have students keep a log as they read about Krystyna, Lili and Alexander.

Have them list incidents or acts of discrimination; who was involved, and what happened as a result?

Encourage the students to be as specific as possible. Also have them note acts of kindness. Who was involved? What happened as a result?

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