Monday, March 3, 2014

Tell Them We Remember by Susan Bachrach, PhD.

Published in 1994 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

              "The first to perish were the children . . .                                                         From these . . . our new dawn might have risen."                                                                         Yitzhak Katzenelson                                                                     poet, playwright, and educator (1886-1944)       
Yitzhak Katzenelson's words are the first words to appear on a page when the cover of this book is opened; his words are powerful and set the tone for the entire text. Tell Them We Remember by Susan D. Bachrach is a nonfiction/informational text that was published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in 1994. The book is divided into three parts: (1) Nazi Germany, (2) The "Final Solution," and (3) Rescue, Resistance, and Liberation. The primary purpose of the book is to educate middle and high school students about the story of the Holocaust. This book would be an excellent source that could be used in the classroom by humanities, social studies, religious studies, and sociology teachers.

Part One describes Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust, defines Anti-Semitism, and describes how Hitler came to power, the impact that he had on Germany, the beginning of World War II, and the murder of the handicapped.

Part Two describes the expansion of Hitler's Third Reich and Hitler's occupation of Western Europe, the ghettos in Eastern Europe, life in the ghettos, the mobile killing squads, the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazis came up with the name "The Final Solution," the deportations to the camps, experiences on the trains, what took place at the extermination camps in Poland, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and what happened to the prisoners in the camps.

Part Three is about the many efforts of rescue and resistance that occurred throughout the war and the liberation. This was my favorite part of the book because stories were told of people who tried to make a difference during the Holocaust. Countless efforts of resistance did take place, and many Jews and non-Jews alike risked their lives to save others. This final section of the book includes topics such as the resistance inside Germany, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, killing center revolts, Jewish partisans, the death marches, the liberation, the Nuremberg trials, and what happened to the survivors after the war who had to remain in displaced persons (DP) camps because they had lost everything, including their homes and family members.

The Afterword is dedicated to remembering the children; this section includes a brief summary of Anne Frank's life, photos of art work created by children who either perished or survived the Holocaust, other artifacts and photos, and a beautiful picture of the Wall of Remembrance at the USHMM in Washington, D.C. This wall was created by children from around the country; each child painted a ceramic tile to commemorate the Holocaust, which was then brought to the museum and attached to the wall.

The illustrations in Tell Them We Remember are actual photographs that were taken before, during, and after World War II. The book is literally filled with these images; maps and time lines are also included to place the Holocaust within its historical context. The introduction of the book provides information about the USHMM in Washington, D.C. and has a picture of it. After the introduction there is a two-page I-D Photo Guide that lists 20 teens and young adults who either perished or survived the Holocaust. When visiting the Holocaust Museum, visitors receive a photo ID when they begin their tour. The stories that are told in this book are part of the story that is told at the museum; their stories are shared in various locations throughout the text, and at the end of the book, readers find out whether or not they survived.

This book would be an excellent text to use to teach students about the Holocaust. The structure of Bachrach's book is what makes it an excellent source. Most topics are covered on just one page, and every topic has several photographs to visually engage the reader. This makes it easy for students to read; the language is simple, easy to understand, and straight to the point. After reading this book, it would be difficult for anyone to deny that the Holocaust happened. There is just too much documentation; the section on the Nuremberg Trials is particularly powerful.

Also, because the book ends with a section on the rescue, resistance, and liberation, it gives the reader hope that even the best of humanity can be revealed during dark times. Many people were bystanders and did nothing; many people were collaborators, many were the perpetrators who committed the crimes, many were victims, but there were brave souls who took a stand, did what they could to help the victims, and risked their lives in the process. These stories make it easy for teachers to end their Holocaust or history unit on a more positive note. Although it is important to study the facts about what took place during the Holocaust, perhaps by focusing on the positive stories that took place during World War II, students will be inspired to make a difference in their world.

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.
                                                          --Martin Niemoller

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Website
Meet Susan Bachrach, PhD
Meet Martin Niemoller (Poem Source USHMM)
Image Source

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