CHAPTER SIX

YOM HASHOAH HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

 

1  BACKGROUND

 

In 1959 the Israeli Knesset passed a special law creating Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). This Memorial Day is observed each year on the 27th of Nissan.This date coincides with the beginning of the heroic revolt against the Nazis by Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. It usually occurs in April.  Marked throughout Israel, this day is dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

 

The Holocaust refers to the attempt by Nazi Germany to systematically destroy European Jews. From the inception of the Nazi regime in 1933 Jews were deprived of civil rights, persecuted, physically attacked, imprisoned and murdered. They were no longer citizens of Germany. Their businesses were boycotted and insurance was cancelled. Jewish children could no longer attend German public schools and professionals were forbidden to practice their trades. Most humiliating of all was the symbolic six-pointed yellow star they were forced to wear in public. The Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler wanted to eliminate all Jews as part of his aim to conquer the world.

 

Violence accompanied the growing Anti-Semitism. In November of 1938 two-days of terror swept throughout Germany. Synagogues, Jewish institutions and Jewish businesses were destroyed. Over 30,000 Jews were arrested. This pogrom is remembered as "Kristallnacht" or "crystal night" because of all the broken glass left on the streets of Germany.

 

Nazis forced Jews out of their homes to large towns and small cities surrounded by barbed-wire fences and armed soldiers. These cities were called ghettos. The conditions were crowded and unsanitary as thousands of Jews were forced to resettle. Life was desperate, but dignity found its place in the day-to-day survival of people who refused to give in to the hopelessness of ghetto life. There was school for children, organized food distribution and volunteer hospitals to take care of the sick.

 

Many of those who did not die of starvation in the ghetto met death in the concentration camps. These prison towns were the last stop for "enemies of the state." Just being Jewish was enough to qualify. As prisoners arrived, the weak were immediately weeded out from those who were healthy and strong. The latter were assigned work detail. Some groups were sent into town to work in factories as slave labour. Others were assigned jobs in the camp itself. Food was scarce and meals were minimal. Disease was rampant. Those who were too weak were never heard from again.

 

With the gradual conquest of Europe by Germany, the death toll increased and a meeting at Wannsee (January 1942) made plans for the so-called “final solution.” Jews were herded into concentration camps, slave-labour camps and extermination camps.

 

By the end of the war in 1945 more than 6 million Jews had been murdered out of a total Jewish population of 8 million in those countries occupied by the Nazis. Of these the largest number, 3 million, were from Poland. Other minorities whom Hitler regarded as racially inferior or politically dangerous were systematically killed. Gypsies, various religious sects, and homosexuals were also subject to the Nazi atrocities. Historians estimate that perhaps as many as 11 million people were killed, including the Jews.

 

 

Many of the Holocaust victims were killed in specially constructed gas chambers, and their bodies were then burned. Poison gas was the method used in the organized mass murder of "enemies of the state.”  The word holocaust means a sacrificial offering that is completely burned.

 

One of the results of the Holocaust was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. In 1953, YAD VASHEM, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established by an act of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset.) The major task of Yad Vashem is to document all the events of the Holocaust, especially the brave fight for life demonstrated by Jews all over Europe. The archives and library of Yad Vashem contain the actual records of the struggle for life waged by millions of Jewish men, women and children. Outside, a lovely tree-lined path honors those non-Jews of Europe who risked their own lives to save their Jewish neighbors.

 

Yom Hashoah is marked throughout the world. In Israel it is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 26th of Nissan and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country. The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television.

 

The evening ceremony is held in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families. Six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit. The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions.

 

Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work. Throughout the day, both the television and radio broadcast programs about the Holocaust.

 

In recent years, other countries and Jewish communities have adopted Yom Hashoah, the 27th of Nissan, to mark their own day of memorial for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Observances vary from one community to another. Holocaust survivors are often featured participants.

 

It is important that you read the introduction in order to put the activities that follow in their correct framework.

 

 

2  LEXICAL ITEMS

 

concentration camp, extermination, final solution, genocide, ghetto, Holocaust, Nazi regime, pogrom, silence, siren, six million, slave-labour camps.

 

Ideas for different levels

Grade 4: Holocaust word search 1 with word bank. Have the pupils use the words in sentences.

Grade 4/5: Holocaust word search 2 together with word bank. Have pupils find the words in the dictionary and write definitions or translations.

Grade 5/6:  Use Holocaust  word search 2 with word bank. Have the pupils use the words in sentences.

Grade 5/6: Give pupils the word bank and have them develop a crossword puzzle.

 

Activity    Holocaust Word Search 1

 

In the word search below you have words going in all directions:

                                                         There are 8 things all related to  

                                                          the title.       

 

 

H O L O C A U S T Y

M C P K N E R I S N

Z B M N Y R C L J A

E L A L A V X E A M

X Z C R X I M N F R

I N T T S S U C S E

G A S E O T T E H G

 

 

 

 

Word bank:   camp, Germany, ghetto, Holocaust, Nazi, silence, siren, six

 

 

Use each word in a sentence.  Each sentence should be about the Holocaust.

 

 

Activity    Holocaust Word Search 2

 

 

 

In the word search below you have words going in all directions:

                                                         There are 12 things all related to  

                                                          the title.       

 

Holocaust Day

 

Y N N U W E D I C O N E G Z K Z P Q E

M C P O G R O M T C J J E X E M Z V C

Z B E I Y R C P J E O M Z Q A K I L N

E L S L A V E L A B O U R C A M P S E

X X L R X F M C F U L I N M J O S L L

J N T T K S U P S M R O W G T H W D I

G A S E S B S Z Z F I T R X W X C D S

H Z U P R E P E M T K N X F Z S R H Z

L I R X I M Y U A X P N A L H L O J F

J R U W P U I R L K P Z H Q X L E S V

N E T O P D T N C E V N X Z O B Z G D

Q G D L K N H G A Z R B Z C L Z V R U

Z I A I E V S N N T F J A F I N A L P

M M H C C O E U T F I U Q F K R N C K

O E N J T O O A I M S O N O I T U L O

S O K T D H N V N T H M N R C O W C P

C I E H L U D E V V D U V Z F C W L K

M H R Q B V H R A R X M C M L K A B C

G G O E C N O I L L I M X I S X S B U

A B J M N T F I N A L S O L U T I O N

 

 

 

Word bank:  concentration camp, extermination, final solution, genocide, ghetto, Holocaust, Nazi regime, pogrom, silence, siren, six million, slave-labour camps.

 

3       SONGS

 

Holocaust Day does not really lend itself to songs. I have included the translation of the song "Eli Eli" and 2 poems which may be used. The poem "Motelle" has an activity associated with it. (See below.)

 

 

Eli Eli

 

My G-d, My G-d

may there be no end

to sea, to sand,

water's splash,              x 2

lightning's flash,

the prayer of man.

 

 

 

A6893  by Anna Sotto.

 

She didn't cry

when they removed

her clothes, her ring,

her shoes, her hair.

But when they took away

her name

She wept.

 

Motelle

 

This poem was written by a child of the Warsaw Ghetto.

It appeared in a project of the Zionist youth movement Habonim in Australia 1971.

 

 

From tomorrow I shall be sad

From tomorrow on!

Today I will be gay

What is the use of sadness … tell me that?

Because these evil winds begin to blow?

Why should I grieve for tomorrow …today?

Tomorrow may be so good, so sunny,

Tomorrow the sun may shine for us again,

We shall no longer be sad.

From tomorrow on,  I shall be sad -

From tomorrow on!

Not today no! Today I will be glad.

And every day, no matter how bitter it be.

I will say

From tomorrow on,  I shall be sad.

Not today!

 

 

 

 

4 ACTIVITIES

 

Title: Easy word search.

Level: Grade 3.

Materials: Word search and flashcards.

Aims:

-to familiarize the pupils with lexical items related to the day.

 -to practise recognition of words.

-to practise letter formation.

Description:

Due to the lack of language and the sensitivity level of the subject matter it is difficult to prepare a lesson around this theme for this grade level. However, I feel that it should not be eliminated. The following activity familiarizes the pupils with some lexical items and has them practise letter recognition and formation.

Present the words to your pupils. Hold the word up pronouncing it clearly. Explain or translate the word. Have the pupils practise the word by repeating it after you. Let individual pupils repeat the word. Continuously repeat words already presented.

Then hand out the worksheet.

 

Flashcard words:

 

camp,     ghetto,      Holocaust,     Nazis,     silence,     siren

 

Activity             Holocaust Memorial Day

 

1.       Find the words in the word search below. They go across or down . They are all in capital letters. Circle them.

 

Words to find - camp, ghetto, Holocaust, Nazis, silence, siren

 

C

A

T

B

G

H

E

T

T

O

U

S

H

E

A

O

X

E

N

N

P

O

E

E

S

L

I

N

E

E

A

N

N

U

T

O

P

E

N

O

S

I

L

E

N

C

E

N

D

Z

I

S

A

T

U

A

D

A

Y

O

R

O

S

E

S

U

N

N

Y

O

E

N

A

Z

I

S

H

O

E

S

N

E

V

E

R

T

E

N

E

T

R

E

M

B

E

R

A

N

C

E

2.      Now write the words in the space below. They are in order of the ABC.

Use small letters. You have the first letter.

 

c __  __  __

g __  __ __ __ __

H __  __ __ __ __ __  __ __

N __  __ __ __

s __  __ __ __ __ __

s __  __ __ __

 

Title: Writing a story.

Level: Grade 4.

Materials: Sentence strips and text of the paragraph.

Aims:

-to practise global reading.

-to understand the meaning of this day.

 -to practise the letter “s”.

Description:

Have the pupils listen to a short paragraph about Holocaust day.

Ask a few questions to check understanding of the paragraph.

Then put the paragraph sentence by sentence on the blackboard. (I use the sentence strips I have prepared for this.), and read each together with the pupils.

Hand pupils a copy of the paragraph and ask them to circle all the words that begin with “s”.  Correct their work by having the pupils read out the answer. An extension of this is to have the pupils make up sentences using the words that begin with “s”.

 

Paragraph:

It is Holocaust day. I am sad. I remember all the Jews who died. Six million Jews died. A siren sounds in the morning. Everybody stands in silence. 

 

An extension of this activity is to have the pupils copy the paragraph. This is good practice for their letter formation skills. The finished copy can be placed in their portfolios, thus giving them a reason to copy the paragraph neatly.               

Sentence strips – These need to be enlarged or written onto poster card.

 

It is Holocaust day.

 

I am sad.

 

I remember all the Jews who died.

 

Six million Jews died.

 

A siren sounds in the morning.

 

Everybody stands in silence.  

 

 

 

 

Title: Motelle.

Level: Grade 4/5.

Materials: Copies of the poem.

Aims:

-to practise listening skills.

-to practise reading skills.

Description:

Read the poem to the class.

Ask them what they think the poem is about. 

Reread the first 4 lines and ask them when they think the poem was written.

Hand out the poem and let them read it quietly.

Give them some background information and let them do the reaction exercise at the end. (It is suggested that pupil answers be written on paper or in their notebooks.) You will need to go over the questions with the pupils.

Place a copy of the poem and the reaction in the pupil’s portfolio.

A large copy of the poem with pupil reactions can be used as a wall display.

 

 

 

Activity

 

 

 

Motelle

 

From tomorrow I shall be sad

From tomorrow on!

Today I will be gay

What is the use of sadness … tell me that?

Because these evil winds begin to blow?

Why should I grieve for tomorrow …today?

Tomorrow may be so good, so sunny,

Tomorrow the sun may shine for us again,

We shall no longer be sad.

From tomorrow on,  I shall be sad -

From tomorrow on!

Not today no! Today I will be glad.

And every day, no matter how bitter it be.

I will say

From tomorrow on,  I shall be sad.

Not today!

 

This poem was written by a child of the Warsaw Ghetto.

It appeared in a project of the Zionist youth movement Habonim in Austalia 1971.

 

Answer these questions please.

1.       How did you feel when you read the poem?

2.  When is today?

3.  When is tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

Title:  Question and answer.

Level: Grade 5/6.

Materials: Activity sheet.

Aims:

 -to familiarize the pupils with facts related to this day.

 -to practise writing questions.

Description:

Brainstorm lexical items related to Holocaust day. Elicit events and dates related to the Holocaust.

Hand out activity sheet.

 

Activity sheet   Holocaust Day.

 

You have a list of answers to questions about the Holocaust. Write a question for each answer. Use the following question words: What? When? Who? Why? How many?

 

1. ___________________________________________________________?

The Nazi regime began in 1933.

2. ___________________________________________________________?

Adolf Hitler was a Nazi dictator.

3. ___________________________________________________________?

The pogrom was called “Kristallnacht” because of all the broken glass left on the streets of Germany.

4. ___________________________________________________________?

The war ended in 1945.

5. ___________________________________________________________?

Six million Jews were killed.

6. ___________________________________________________________?

Yom Hashoah is marked on the 27th Nissan.

7. ___________________________________________________________?

We hear a siren.

8. ___________________________________________________________?

When the siren sounds we stand in silence.  

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