In Focus: The Holocaust Through the VHEC Collection
Faces of Survival: Photographs by Marissa Roth
The largest collection exhibition since the opening of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) in 1994, In Focus: The Holocaust Through the VHEC Collection brings to the forefront more than 80 artefacts and archival records from the Centre’s collection. Most of these artefacts were donated by local Holocaust survivors, eyewitnesses and their families, and attest to their deep connections to Canada and the local community. Each artefact tells a unique and intimate story — be it of individual loss, resistance, survival or hope — and simultaneously speaks to universal themes of Holocaust study.
Faces of Survival: Photographs by Marissa Roth is a portrait series by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Marissa Roth. Roth powerfully captures volunteer members of Vancouver’s local Holocaust survivor community. The portraits speak to the survivors’ pain, loss, and suffering, but also to their hope, resilience, and the victory of the human spirit. Survivor quotes accompanying the portraits convey meaningful messages to students and the general public.
Pigeon Classroom Workshop
Pigeon is a classroom workshop that consists of a short film focusing on rescue and decision making during the Holocaust in France, followed by an interactive exploration of those themes led by the docent.
The lessons in this guide introduce students to the film’s broader historical context, and facilitate their ongoing engagement with the topics and themes raised in the docent-led classroom workshop. The guide includes pre and post-workshop activities, discussion questions, student study documents, links to primary sources, including a survivor testimony, a historical document from the VHEC collection, as well as a glossary and recommended resources.
Canada Responds to the Holocaust, 1944–45
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context, photos and themes related to the Canada Responds to the Holocaust, 1944–45 exhibition. The guide complements class visits to the 90-minute interactive exhibit tour and workshop and is divided in pre-visit and post-visit activities. The pre-visit activities introduce students to Jewish life in Europe and cultural loss through the Holocaust. The post-visit activities give students the opportunity to learn about Canada’s post-war immigration policies — especially in regards to Jewish refugees — and elicit discussion about Canada’s response to the refugee crisis today.
Exhibition and educational programs supported by the Government of Canada, with additional support for teacher’s guide provided by the Azrieli Foundation and Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.
Ruta’s Closet is an account of one Jewish family and their experiences during the Holocaust in Lithuania. It is based on the testimony of child survivor Ruth Kron Sigal. This study guide provides an historical overview of the Jewish community in Lithuania before and during the Holocaust and presents strategies for engaging with the historical context and individual experiences presented in the book.
The guide facilitates discussion around questions about ethical decision-making, human rights and freedoms and international law.
Open Hearts – Closed Doors: The War Orphans Project
Open Hearts – Closed Doors tells the story of the arrival in Canada of 1,123 Jewish children orphaned by the Holocaust. It chronicles the lives of these children as they emerged from the Holocaust into Displaced Persons (DP) camps and orphanages, and eventually to the ships that would lead them to new lives in Canada. It also tells the story of the efforts of Jewish organizations and international agencies that helped identify these children and bring them to Canada.
Originally developed by and presented at the VHEC in 1997, the Open Hearts – Closed Doors teaching exhibition is being re-presented to provide opportunities for visitors to engage with Canadian immigration policies from a historical perspective, using case studies of Holocaust survivors from the local community.
The VHEC produced a teaching resource to support classroom visits to the Open Hearts – Closed Doors: The War Orphans Project school program in 1997. The guide contains pre- and post-visit activities that facilitate student engagement with the historical context and personal testimonies in the exhibit, and provides an opportunity for further reflection on thematic issues raised during the school program.
This addendum to the guide introduces students to Jewish life in pre-war Europe through engagement in a pre-visit photo narrative activity, complementing class participation in the 75-minute interactive exhibit tour.
Supported by the Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund, held at the Vancouver Foundation.
The Face of the Ghetto: Pictures Taken by Jewish Photographers in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1940–1944
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context, photos and themes related to The Face of the Ghetto exhibit, and is recommended for grade six to twelve.
The guide complements student visits to the 75-minute interactive exhibit tour, and is divided into two sections. The pre-visit activities introduce students to the concept of racial antisemitism, and guide discussion about Jewish life in prewar Poland and under Nazi occupation. Post-visit exercises address themes raised during the school program, and offer students the opportunity for further reflection on resistance, ethical decision-making and memorialization.
The Face of the Ghetto: Pictures Taken by Jewish Photographers in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto 1940–1944 exhibition produced by the Topography of Terror Foundation, Berlin. Exhibit and education program supported by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Vancouver.
Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context and individual testimonies featured in the Carl Lutz exhibit, and is recommended for grades six to twelve.
The guide complements classroom visits to the 90-minute interactive exhibit tour and workshop, and is divided into two sections. The pre-visit activities introduce students to fascism and racial antisemitism, and elicit discussion about Jewish life in prewar Hungary and under Nazi occupation. Post-visit exercises address thematic issues raised during the school program, and offer students the opportunity for further reflection on rescue, social justice and moral decision-making.
Teacher’s Guide made possible through the support of the Consulate General of Switzerland.
Anne Frank: A History for Today
This teacher resource facilitates student engagement with historical context, artefacts, and themes featured in the Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibition. These activities are recommended for grade 6 through 12.
Pre-visit lessons will equip students with base knowledge of prewar Jewish life in Germany and the Netherlands, insight into the rise of National Socialism, and perspective on wartime hiding. Post-visit exercises encourage students to reflect on the school program by exploring key human rights issues relating to the Holocaust, civic responsibility, and popular culture through an investigation of primary source material and online media.
Teacher’s Guide made possible through the generous support of the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund of the Vancouver Foundation, and Ralph Markin & Bob Markin, in honour of a dear friend, Leslie Spiro z”l. Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibition produced by The Anne Frank House.
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context, photograph and primary source document replication, and testimonies featured in the Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945 exhibition. The activities are recommended for grades 8 through 12.
Teacher’s Guide made possible through the generous support of the Mordehai & Hana Wosk Family Fund for Education of the VHEC.
“Enemy Aliens”: The Internment of Jewish Refugees in Canada, 1940–1943
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context, artefacts and testimonies featured in the “Enemy Aliens” exhibition. The activities are recommended for grades 6 through 12.
Pre-visit activities will provide students with the base knowledge of Jewish life in prewar Germany and Austria, as well as insight into the rise of National Socialism. Post-visit lessons encourage students to reflect upon the school program by exploring key social justice issues relating to the Holocaust, Canada, and beyond through an investigation of primary source material and critical thinking skills.
Teacher’s Guide made possible through the generous support of Debby Freiman in honour of Leonore Ehrlich Freiman
The Wartime Escape: Margaret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France
This resource features pre-visit activities that will prepare students for the VHEC school program, introduce them to Margret and H.A. Rey, the author and illustrator of the Curious George books and provide them with background information on the history of France during the Holocaust.
The post-visit activities extend gallery learning back to the classroom, and expand on the themes of the cultural contributions of survivors, learning from primary source evidence and the plight of refugees during the Holocaust and other genocides.
A Program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment of the Arts
Albanian Muslim Rescuers During the Holocaust
This resource features a pre-visit activity that will prepare students for the VHEC-based school program, in which students will explore the topic of rescue during the Holocaust through an analysis of Norman Gershman’s portraits of Albanian Muslim rescuers. A number of post-visit activities extend gallery learning back into the classroom, and expand on the theme of rescue—both of human lives and of aspects of culture—during the Holocaust and other genocides.
The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust: One Man Takes a Stand
This resource features:
- Background information on the Armenian Genocide and Armin Wegner, as well as strategies for addressing comparative genocide in the classroom.
- Activities on decoding photographs and writing as resistance that draw on primary sources from the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide and Darfur.
- A timeline and recommended resources about the Armenian genocide.
Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians – A Multimedia Resource Guide for Teachers
produced by Facing History and Ourselves | www.facinghistory.org
Broken Threads: The Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry in Germany and Austria
Broken Threads: A Teacher’s Guide explores the period of the Holocaust beginning in 1933 and concluding with the concentration camps. Concerned with issues of cultural and human loss, the Teacher’s Guide deals with themes of propaganda, boycotts, intimidation and humiliation, nationalism, Aryanization, Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, deportations and emigration. The guide includes archival photographs, fashion drawings and newspaper clippings, as well as suggestions for classroom activities and discussion.
Greece and The Holocaust: The Destruction of a Community
The Teacher’s Guide Greece and the Holocaust: The Destruction of a Community provides an historical overview of the Jewish community in Greece before, during and after the Holocaust. In three months in 1943, the Nazis used nineteen train transports to deport much of the Greek Jewish population, extinguishing centuries of Jewish culture. The Teacher’s Guide explores themes of cultural loss, deportation, rescue and resistance in relation to the Holocaust. The Guide features archival photographs, primary source documents and classroom activities.
Portraits of Our Past: The Sephardic Communities of Greece and the Holocaust, a companion resource referenced in the Teacher’s Guide, can be borrowed from the VHEC Library.
Korczak and the Children of The Warsaw Ghetto
Janusz Korczak was one of the world’s first advocates of children’s rights. On August 6, 1942 he became a heroic figure. On that day, this famous and beloved doctor, writer and educator was forced by the Nazis to gather together the two hundred orphans under his care in the Warsaw ghetto and report for deportation. Refusing all offers for his own rescue, he led the children with quiet dignity to the tram that would take them to their deportation to Treblinka, an extermination camp where they were murdered. Janusz Korczak & the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto examines the life of Janusz Korczak, the experiences and tragic fate of the children in the Warsaw ghetto and looks at how the violation of children’s rights during the Holocaust is reflected in the global fight for children’s rights in the world today.
Life Unworthy of Life: Nazi Euthanasia Crimes at Hadamar
Life Unworthy of Life: Nazi Euthanasia Crimes at Hadamar: A Teacher’s Guide, deals with the issues of ethics and social justice involved in the history of Operation T-4, the plan to kill mentally and physically disabled German citizens, as well as those deemed “undesirable” by the Third Reich. The Teacher’s Guide addresses themes of eugenics, euthanasia, propaganda and dehumanization. It also touches upon how Nazi medicine has cast a shadow on genetic research and contemporary policies through student readings, discussion questions, a glossary, a timeline and a list of books and videos.
Light One Candle: A Child’s Diary of the Holocaust
Light One Candle: A Child’s Diary of the Holocaust: A Teacher’s Guide, is based on the lost secret diary of a young boy, Solly Ganor, who survived internment in the Kovno Ghetto, the slave labour camp of Landsberg-Kaufering and the Dachau death march. The Teacher’s Guide presents excerpts from Solly Ganor’s writings as well as discussion questions, suggestions for multi-disciplinary classroom activities with opportunities for individual study and small group work.
MAUS: A Memoir of the Holocaust
MAUS: A Memoir of the Holocaust: A Teacher’s Guide deals with the two-volume Pulitzer Prize-winning book by graphic artist Art Spiegelman that tells the story of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of the artist’s father, Vladek. Maus serves as an example of how the artistic process can become a form of social justice by exploring the Holocaust through Vladek’s experiences of segregation, hiding, deportation, the working of Auschwitz, resistance, liberation and the aftermath of the war.
More than Just Games: Canada & the 1936 Olympics
A Student Mock Trial of Julius Streicher
In 1946 Streicher, the publisher of the virulently anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer, was convicted of “crimes against humanity” for his role in inciting the persecution and murder of Jews through the dissemination of hate propaganda. Using primary source material as evidence, students will reenact Steicher’s trial, learning about the Nuremberg tribunals’ processes and contemporary significance.
The VHEC is pleased to offer all material necessary for conducting a mock trial in the classroom:
On the Edge of the Abyss
On the Edge of the Abyss explores the Holocaust through examination of art by survivors about their Holocaust experience. The Teacher’s Guide is focused on drawings by Ella Liebermann-Shiber, which she created after liberation when she was 17. Liebermann-Shiber spent what would have been her school years in the Bedzin ghetto and Auschwitz. The Teacher’s Guide, which includes images, background readings and classroom activities, explores art of the Holocaust and related themes of remembrance, eyewitness testimony and human rights. The lesson plans are designed for both art and social studies teachers.
Open Hearts – Closed Doors
Open Hearts Closed Doors: A Teacher’s Guide tells the story of the 1,123 Jewish war orphans who came to Canada from the devastation of Europe between 1947–1949. The material also presents a snapshot of Canada’s treatment of other immigrant groups. The Teacher’s Guide provides historical background materials in the form of summaries, timelines, glossaries, bibliographies, videographies and classroom activities. Hands-on documentary evidence includes: photos, orphan identification cards, correspondence from Canadian politicians concerning the immigration of Jews and other ethnic groups, steam ship tickets, a Chinese head tax, and a Japanese internment card is also included.
Ravensbrück: The Forgotten Women of the Holocaust
Ravensbrück: Forgotten Women of the Holocaust: A Teacher’s Guide, explores the treatment, experiences and responses of the women from diverse backgrounds and nationalities interned at Ravensbrück (a concentration camp built specifically for women). The Teacher’s Guide contains lesson ideas, discussion questions, and supporting resources including primary documents such as poems and drawings made in secret by the women of Ravensbrück and staged photographs produced by the Nazis in an effort to deceive a Red Cross delegation about the true conditions of the camp.
Schindler & Vancouver’s Schindler Jews
The story of Schindler, a Sudeten-German industrialist and rescuer of 1,100 Jews, lends itself to key issues in the history of the Holocaust, most notably the theme of rescue. This Teacher’s Guide presents strategies for integrating the topic of rescue during the Holocaust into the classroom and, by extension, for encouraging students to consider the individual and collective responsibilities of citizens today in responding to contemporary issues of injustice and racism.
The Teacher’s Guide includes five classroom lessons, each with a student reading and documents, as well as activities and discussion questions. Although the lessons can be used in conjunction with school tours of the Schindler & Vancouver’s Schindler Jews exhibits, the accompanying texts and visual support material are designed to ensure that they can be carried out in classes without direct access to the Centre.
Download Individual Activities
Identity and Rescue
This activity, which includes pre and post-visit activities and discussion questions, introduces the topic of altruism during the Holocaust. By examining the cases of individuals who risked their lives to help Jews, students begin to consider the possibility for action in the face of social injustice.
Lists: The Difference Between Life and Death
Students examine various documentary lists from the Holocaust, including Schindler’s list, in order to gain a broader understanding of the events and nature of the Final Solution.
Vancouver Schindler Jews:
Learning from Testimony and Artefacts
Students interact with survivor testimonies and artefacts in order to consider the humanity of the victims, as well as the significance of eyewitness testimony and archival materials.
Representing Schindler: The Story of the Story
Designed for Senior Secondary students, this activity facilitates a more complex engagement with the sources of historical knowledge of Schindler, and the motivations for Schindler’s act of rescue.
Rwandan Genocide: Acts of Rescue
This activity encourages students to link their learning about rescue during the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide.
Shoes of Memory: Holocaust Ceramic Work by Jenny Stolzenberg
The seventy pairs of ceramic shoes that make up the Shoes of Memory exhibition echo the piles of shoes, clothing, hair, glasses and suitcases found in the warehouses of Auschwitz at liberation and evoke the memory of those who perished. Meticulously researched and rendered in clay, Stolzenberg’s shoes return a sense of identity to the victims of the Holocaust by rescuing the shoes from their anonymity in the piles at Auschwitz. The accompanying teachers’ guides link the artworks tot he Social Studies and Fine Arts curricula.
Shanghai: A Refuge During the Holocaust
Shanghai: A Refuge During the Holocaust: A Teacher’s Guide, addresses the 18,000 European Jews who found sanctuary in Shanghai. The Teacher’s Guide traces the history of the Jews in Shanghai and deals with the indifference that the world community had during the first phase of the holocaust through student readings, primary documents and photographs, a timeline, glossary and suggested resources.
Scream the Truth at the World
Too Close to Home: Anti-Semitism and Fascism in Canada, 1930s & 1940s: An Artefact Folio
Too Close to Home: Anti-Semitism & Fascism in Canada 1930s & 1940s draws attention to a shameful part of Canadian history: a time when Nazi ideology and antisemitism permeated Canada’s cultural and political landscape and was reflected in Canada’s restrictive immigration policies.
Too Close to Home, an artefact folio and teacher’s guide, provides secondary school students and teachers with primary source materials from Canada in the 1930s and 1940s. These materials paint a picture of the times and address the issues of antisemitism, Fascism, Nazism and immigration in Canada during the Holocaust.
These artefacts have the power to engage students’ interest and understanding. They help students appreciate how Canada’s present diversity and multicultural identity evolved out of a more exclusionary past.
- Five thematic sections: Anti-semitism, Fascism and Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, Canadian Immigration and Propaganda
- Strategy for working with primary source materials
- Student information sheets, discussion extension questions & glossary
- 20 folio cards, 8.5″ X 11″
- Newspaper articles, letters, diary entries, photographs, cartoons and propaganda materials from the 1930s & 1940s