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Table of Contents
About this Issue
Remembering September 11th
Holocaust Survivors Reflect on September 11th
Teaching the Holocaust in an Age of Terror
Remembering and Commemorating September 11th
Glossary of Terms

Volume 16, No. 1/ Fall 2002   
Teaching the Holocaust in an Age of Terror
Ideas for Additional Workshops

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Teaching the Holocaust in an Age of Terror
•  Making Connections: September 11th and the Holocaust
•  Teaching the Holocaust in the Shadow of September 11th
•  Ideas Workshop
•  Proposal for a Semester Course on September 11th
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In the months immediately following September 11th, Dr. Mary Johnson facilitated workshops for high school students that explored how memories are shaped by atrocities such as September 11, 2001, Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) and the Holocaust (1933-1945).

Workshop 1

Defining Moments in American History: September 11, 2001 the Attack
on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) and the Holocaust (1933-1945)

Student Workshop for High School Students, Sarasota, Florida, December 7, 2001

This workshop explored how memories are shaped by atrocities such as September 11th, Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust.

The workshop opened with an examination of the attack on Pearl Harbor, using a selection from the film Pearl Harbor in which Roosevelt stands before his cabinet and insists that America will take military action in response to the attacks. Several adults in the audience briefly recalled living through the period in history.

The workshop next considered the impact of September 11th on Americans: large size photos from newspapers and magazines of September 11th were placed on the walls and students were asked to go around looking at the photos and to express their reactions in a journal. Then there were small groups for think, pair, share before the entire group came together to share responses briefly and consider the similarities and differences with the Pearl Harbor attack.

Then the workshop examined how the rise of the Nazis, in particular events like the boycott, the Berlin Olympics, and Kristallnacht (the November Pogrom) affected the lives of individuals in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. We considered events in the six years before the opening of World War II: there were six groups and each group investigated the events of one year using a variety of books, photographs, and primary sources. After the groups did their research for 30 minutes the group reporters summarized what their groups had learned about their respective years. We concluded this section in a large group thinking about how the rise of Nazis was a defining period for those living in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe before September 1939.

Just before lunch all the students were invited to tour a photographic exhibition of what occurred in Nazi Germany between September 1939 and May 1945: the exhibition consisted of large posters from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Florida Holocaust Museum. Students familiar with the history took groups through the photographic exhibition. This served as a background to the years of the Final Solution.

During and after lunch, each of the six groups joined a Holocaust survivor. The groups ate with their survivors and listened to their stories, especially focused on the years of World War II and the Holocaust. Each of the survivors was aware that the students had earlier discussed defining moments in history such as September 11th and the attacks on Pearl Harbor and each survivor was encouraged to think of times during the Nazi era that were defining moments in his or her particular story. Each group prepared a montage of their survivor's life to present to the entire group at the end of the workshop.

Workshop 2

Human Rights in a Time of Crisis

Teacher One-day Workshop, Boise, Idaho — October 5, 2001

What happens to human rights in times of crisis? This was the central question of the workshop.

The workshop opened with a prompt on September 11, 2001 — a five minute section entitled "The Bike Ride" of 17 year-old Willie Friedman who went to ground zero on September 12th and recorded his reactions of the site and the firefighters at a local fire station. The participants broke into small groups to talk about their reactions and their students' reactions to September 11th. Photographs of the attacks on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon were shared as the groups spoke. We then came back for a general share. Les Bok, a lawyer who specializes in human rights and who organized the workshop, offered some of his thoughts on what might happen to civil rights in the United States in reaction to the attacks. The Patriot Act had not yet been passed, but he informed us of what the discussions were and what the concerns were pro and con more stringent restrictions on immigration etc.

Then we looked at a case study of human rights in a time of crisis: we selected the Japanese American internment. We studied the cases of Korematsu, Hirabiashi and Endo, and in each case tried to determine how the threat of invasion on the west coast influenced decisions to curtail freedoms of Japanese Americans. There were two Japanese Americans in the group who had older relatives interned during World War II and they added to the discussion of the long-lasting impact of the internment process. Moreover, we had lawyer Les Bok who offered his insights as a lawyer on the meaning of the three cases.

Following lunch there was a close examination of the Nazi era during the 1930s. Our principal focus was how were freedoms of Jews and other non-Aryan groups circumscribed in order to respond to what the Nazis perceived as a crisis. We looked at principal laws against minorities in 1933, 1935 and 1938 and did a number of readings on the impact of these laws on ordinary Germans and German Jews from the Facing History Resource Book, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. In addition to studying the legislation and the stories of its impact, we got into a discussion of whether people in a dictatorial society are more willing to surrender freedoms for security than people from a democratic society such as the United States. We concluded with how important it is for us as citizens in the 21st century to keep abreast of events and recognize when certain freedoms are jeopardized.

Following our review of the thirties and the general discussion of what happened, a barometer activity was set up: Participants were to arrange themselves on a continuum with one end standing for — there was no opportunity to preserve freedoms once the Nazis came to power — and the other end standing for — there were opportunities in the 1930s for individuals and groups to try and preserve freedoms despite the efforts of the government to enact legislation to secure the nation from threats of non-Aryan minorities. Participants could stand on one end or the other or arrange themselves someplace between the two ends. Then they were asked to defend why they were standing where they were and were encouraged to try and move their colleagues closer to their position.

The workshop closed with a review of the International Declaration of Human Rights and the importance of protecting their rights in times of crisis. Reviewing our case studies of Japanese American internment and Nazi anti-Jewish legislation, we returned to the original question of what happens to human rights in times of crisis.

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Dimensions Online
Volume 18, No. 1, Fall 2004
Yehuda Bauer

Volume 17, No. 2, Fall 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust--Part II

Volume 17, No.1, Spring 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust-- Part I

Volume 16, No. 1, Fall 2002
Remembrance and Commemoration of Two Catastrophes: September 11th and the Holocaust

Articles from the Print Editions of Dimensions
Dimensions continues to be the leading journal in Holocaust studies -- appealing to both serious scholars and the mainstream audience.
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