Groundbreaking Holocaust education resource

Work integrates testimony from survivors and witnesses from Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive.

October 23, 2006 23:57
3 minute read.
holocaust survivor 298.88

holocaust survivor 298.8. (photo credit: GPO [file])

A revolutionary Holocaust education resource for UK high schools, the product of a partnership between the UK's Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), was launched last week at Pimlico High School in London. HET, an organization set up in 1988 to educate young people from all ethnic backgrounds about the Holocaust and lessons to be learned for today, with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, whose mission statement is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry - and the suffering they cause - through the educational use of the institute's visual history testimonies, launched an interactive DVD, Recollections: Eyewitnesses Remember the Holocaust. The work integrates testimony from Holocaust survivors and witnesses from the Shoah Foundation's "Visual History Archive," which contains nearly 52,000 video testimonies and recorded interviews in 32 languages. It also contains 18 visual history testimonies and interviews from Jewish survivors. Roma, Sinti and Jehovah's Witness survivors and survivors of the Nazi eugenics program are also included. Accompanying the testimonies are interactive activities for students and training materials for teachers, which promote knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons and also examines the nature of humanity and the individual's role within society. In development for four years, the groundbreaking interactive DVD is the first schools-specific resource in the UK produced by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and is the first work of its kind in the UK that enables students to learn about the Holocaust by engaging with survivor testimony through interactive technology. Tailored specifically for the Citizenship curriculum, the work can also be used within the History and Religious Education curricula for UK schools. Karen Pollock, chief executive of the HET, said, "Recollections is a groundbreaking resource that will ensure that Holocaust education can continue to engage the next generation of students in the UK, even when survivors are no longer with us." She added: "For almost a decade, HET has facilitated the visit of survivors to schools. But as survivors grow frailer, it will become increasingly difficult to meet the demand from schools for survivors to speak directly to students. This exciting product will revolutionize classroom teaching in the future and we are delighted to be working with USC Shoah Foundation on this very special resource." Doug Greenberg, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, said: "We cannot underestimate the importance of visual history testimony and oral testimony in the years to come. Books can teach us history, but visual and oral history allow learning to come directly from the source, from someone who lived through a particular moment of history. Visual history is the media by which students in the future will learn about the past. Recollections is a resource that begins with testimony, and builds lessons around it; we hope it will engage and challenge students in the UK." Philip Barnard, head teacher at Pimlico School, commented, "We are privileged that Pimlico School is hosting the launch of Recollections. Over the last few years, the HET has organized for survivors to speak to our students and Recollections will now ensure that even more young people will get the opportunity to hear and see first-hand survivor testimony. The interactive activities that the DVD offers not only will provide a vital resource for teaching of the history of the Holocaust in our school and schools across the country, but it will also demonstrate the relevance of the Holocaust today and the importance of tacking bullying, racism and all forms of prejudice." HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, teaching aids and resource material. One of its earliest achievements was ensuring the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. It also plays a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust. Next year, HET will introduce its successful "Lessons from Auschwitz" program to all UK high schools that incorporates a visit to Auschwitz. Recollections will play a vital role complimenting the work of HET, to ensure the students from each school attending the visit, and all young people learning about the Holocaust, can hear and learn from the visual testimony of survivors.

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