5 Tools for Teaching About Genocide

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on April 13, 2022

Teaching about genocide is challenging for a number of reasons. Each instance of genocide is unique to the historical, cultural, and political contexts in which it emerges, demanding sustained intellectual engagement. Simultaneously, however, educators teaching about genocide are also called to engage themselves—and their students—in a level of emotional engagement and ethical reflection not required by most other topics of instruction. Below are 5 virtual tours, exhibitions, and professional development opportunities that educators can use to navigate these challenges with greater support:

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Topics: Armenian Genocide, genocide, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

6 New Books on Genocide

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on April 11, 2022

Here at Facing History, we see awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary manifestations of various phenomena. However, the focus on these themes over one particular month can further marginalize the very phenomena we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Genocide Awareness Month this April and throughout all of the months of the year.

Below are six books that have been released in the last year that elevate understudied aspects of and connections between multiple historical genocides as well as the contemporary task of genocide prevention in a global climate of rising hate. Below is promotional text excerpted from material offered by each book’s publisher:

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Topics: Armenian Genocide, genocide, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

Holocaust Denial: How Teachers Can Turn the Tide

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on January 26, 2022

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day—a time to remember the 6 million Jews whose lives were stolen from this world, the impact on the global Jewish community forever transformed by these events, and also on all who witnessed or study it. On the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the continuing urgency of genocide prevention around the world is clear. Despite the incontrovertibility of this historical record, Holocaust denial and the antisemitism that helps to drive it remain pervasive. Research released by the Claims Conference found that 49% of U.S. millennials and generation Z have seen Holocaust denial or distortion content online—and that one in five U.S. millennials and generation Z surveyed in New York believe that Jews caused the Holocaust. This toxic combination of ignorance allied with antisemitic hatred continue to permeate global consciousness, and teachers have an important part to play in turning the tide. As the group of remaining Holocaust survivors dwindles and their voices become less immediately accessible, innovative classroom strategies like using primary sources can help to bring their stories to life in ways that foster critical thinking, drive ethical reflection, and prepare the young person to navigate an increasingly fraught information landscape.

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Topics: Holocaust and Human Behaviour

7 Classroom Resources on the Holocaust

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on January 25, 2022

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Thursday, January 27th. This is a day when we remember the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, their loved ones, and the ways in which this incalculable tragedy has transformed our world. It is also a time for educators to ensure their readiness to integrate instruction on the Holocaust into their annual teaching plans. Research released by the Claims Conference reveals alarming levels of ignorance amongst millennials and generation Z regarding the Holocaust, as well as profoundly harmful notions of Jewish culpability fueled by antisemitic hatred. Teachers have an essential role to play in disrupting these twin evils of ignorance and hatred, and Facing History materials are here to help educators invite students into this learning in middle and high school classrooms.

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Topics: Holocaust and Human Behaviour, international holocaust remembrance day

Reflections on Yom HaShoah

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on April 7, 2021

Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed every April around the world. On this day, we remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the Jewish resistance that accompanied and followed these events. Today, we sit with the pain, suffering, and multigenerational trauma sustained by the six million victims and their families.

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Topics: Holocaust and Human Behaviour

Recommitting to Holocaust Education

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on January 27, 2021

As we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, we find much reason to pause, mourn, and reflect. As the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol revealed, we are living amidst a climate of hate in this country that seems to grow more visible and pervasive with each passing day. During the invasion of the Capitol, we saw demonstrators present a whole array of white supremacist symbols ranging from Confederate flags to signs displaying hateful, racist language. Though much of the discussion that has followed the insurrection has explored the racism on display that day, it is also crucial that we examine the virulent antisemitism that was also present and that is fueled by the same white nationalist ideas.

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Topics: Holocaust and Human Behaviour

Honoring Survivor Testimony on Yom HaShoah: An Interview with Dr. Anna Ornstein

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on April 20, 2020

In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Anna Ornstein—an Auschwitz survivor, acclaimed psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and author of My Mother’s Eyes: Holocaust Memories of a Young Girl. The impact of the Holocaust on Dr. Ornstein was profound. She and her mother were the only members of her family who survived and immediately after the war, she reunited with her boyfriend Paul and they married. She then pursued medical school in Germany despite the deeply antisemitic climate and was able to persist with the loving support of her husband. Dr. Ornstein later immigrated to the United States where she continued her clinical training while raising her family. She now has three children and five grandchildren. Dr. Ornstein’s life and ideas are the focus of the forthcoming short film by Facing History If Not Me… 

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Topics: Survivor Testimony, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, international holocaust remembrance day

Who Will Write Our History?: An Interview with Roberta Grossman

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on April 1, 2020

In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker Roberta Grossman—director of the acclaimed documentary film Who Will Write Our History? The film tells the remarkable true story of the Oyneg Shabes, a clandestine archival organization that formed in the Warsaw Ghetto to narrate the unfolding events from a Jewish perspective, as well as capture the richness of Jewish cultural life and agency that persisted in the face of the Nazi German occupation. The resulting archive includes a rich array of essays, diaries, drawings, posters, paintings, poetry, and underground newspapers. Here Grossman discusses the film’s development and reception, the power of eyewitness testimony, and the implications of the Oyneg Shabes Archive for how we teach and understand history.

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Topics: Memory, History, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

On the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz: Why the World Needs Upstanders

Posted by Roger Brooks on January 27, 2020

Today we will mark the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz with solemn ceremonies and moments of silence. Let’s also mark the occasion by making an active commitment to disrupting bigotry and hate wherever they are found. Even when we as individuals feel powerless, we can join together in acts of collective democracy as upstanders.

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Topics: Auschwitz, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

What Do We Remember on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 24, 2020

On January 27, we observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. First designated by the United Nations in 2005, this commemoration coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. Around the world, people will gather at sites of memory, listen as survivors share their harrowing stories, and honor victims. Like many commemorations, International Holocaust Remembrance Day looks simultaneously backwards and forwards, linking memory of the past with a mandate to educate and a call to conscience in the present. 

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Topics: Memory, Identity, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.


Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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