Seventy-five years ago this month, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. For nearly four weeks, Jews revolted against the Nazis as they entered the ghetto to deport its remaining inhabitants to concentration camps. Although the Nazi’s military prowess proved too powerful for the prisoners' efforts, it became a symbol of resistance that counteracted the often-touted narrative that Jews went to their deaths without a fight. It is no coincidence that today, Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, coincides with this historic moment.
For 73 years, the Polish Government has bristled at the use of the term, “Polish death camps.” This reticence has prompted a new law, signed yesterday by President Andrzej Duda, that outlaws the phrase and penalizes anyone who suggests the country was complicit in Nazi crimes committed under occupation during World War II. While Duda defends the move as a way to safeguard the country against slander, using law and punishment to manipulate historical narratives raises troubling questions about how we remember the past.
January 27th, the anniversary of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz, is the day marked by the United Nations to remember the Holocaust. Observed at the UN headquarters and in countries throughout the world, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not the only memorial day. Some countries observe a date that relates directly to their own Holocaust history. Jews throughout the world mark the 27th of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar, a date just after Passover and in proximity to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 to remember these catastrophic events.
In March, 64 lawyers from Holland & Knight were busy poring over thousands of essays. These weren’t from legal briefings or court hearings. They were submissions from over 5,200 students who entered the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest. The global law firm’s Holocaust Remembrance Project, which is part of its charitable foundation, generously funded the contest but their lawyers also took an extra step by volunteering to review the essays.
During World War II, 20,000 to 30,000 Jews fought back against the Nazis as partisans. Hidden deep in the forests, these underground communities were the heart of an organized resistance movement that took up arms against the Nazis. Around 10 percent of these partisans were women.
Although often known for their support roles—performing camp duties, providing medical care, and acting as messengers—some women also fought alongside men. As we close out Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating three Jewish women partisans whose bravery shows us the meaning of what it is to be an upstander.
I came to the teaching profession with big ambitions. Like many readers of this blog, I imagine, I’ve always loved learning, and I enjoy the effervescent and unpredictable company of kids. As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand how education can transform an individual’s life. But I also entered the classroom with the conviction that schools have a communal and civic purpose, too—that they are the root and heart of democratic societies.
Friday January 27—the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated—is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day calls for people around the world to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust—those who perished and those who survived to tell their story. Read how one survivor found healing through the Facing History students who listened to her after years of staying silent.
November 9 marked the 78th anniversary of a series of violent attacks against Jews spread across Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Known as Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” it was the most open and violent attack on Jews by the Nazi regime up until that time. The aftermath was devastating: between 1,500 and 3,000 Jews were killed; 30,000 were sent to concentration camps; over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed; and synagogues across Germany were burned down.
Facing History is the lead educational partner for the film, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War. Learn more about how this documentary became a lifelong journey for filmmaker Artemis Joukowsky, III.
Make sure to catch the premiere tonight on PBS. The film will be available for streaming for two weeks following the premiere.
Fifteen years after the attacks on September 11, Facing History's New England Program Associate, Taymullah Abdur-Rahman, reflects on how he came to terms with the attacks and their aftermath as an American Muslim.