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The International School for Holocaust Studies

"Keeping The Memory Alive" - International Poster Competition 2012

Lesson Plan

By Yael Richler




The sixteen posters provided here afford an excellent opportunity for teachers and students to conduct a meaningful exploration into the nature of Holocaust commemoration today. Through their use, students can appreciate the various styles of commemoration. The teacher can use the posters in order to have an educational discussion about the meaning of the Holocaust in the world today.

The lesson will be a general analysis of posters created by artists from the Czech Republic, France and Israel.

The analysis of the posters will allow the students to explore the various meanings of Holocaust remembrance. They will examine the ways in which artists express their ideas and discuss the implications of memory through artistic expression.
In the last part of the lesson, students will be invited to create their own posters, but in a structured process that will enable everyone to participate.

The lesson is accompanied by questions set out on the right-hand side of the page that will help the teacher to expand the discussion and the thinking process.

I. Opening

The United Nations General Assembly established January 27 as International Holocaust Memorial Day. What could be the reasons for determining that day?

Method 1: To create the debate around this question, teachers can take excerpts from the decision of the United Nations itself.

Method 2: Each teacher can also choose one of the posters to develop the discussion. This would be particularly useful if the class has not yet learned about the Holocaust. With a poster the teacher can raise the key concepts related to the Holocaust and recognize the class’s level of knowledge of these concepts. (For example, these posters can be significant to open discussion: use the posters and ask specific questions about them).

II. Analysis of the posters

A group of artists from the Czech Republic, France, and Israel gathered and created posters designed to convey the message each artist wanted to stress, in the story of the Holocaust. What are the messages reflected in the posters? What message do you think the artist wanted to give us in the poster he designed?

Teacher:
This question can be answered using a number of different methods, all of which are methodologically suitable.

A. Spread the posters out on the floor (or table) in the classroom and ask each student to choose what he considers, the most important poster.. Then, each group of students who chose that particular poster should try to express the message as they understood it. (To help them do so they can use the questions found here on the right).
B. Divide the class into groups. Each group will receive one poster chosen by the teacher.. The group will analyze the message as they understand it. (To help them do so they can use the questions found on the right).
C. The teacher will choose 4-5 posters that he considers are most significant and will present them to his students. (Frontal discussion of the posters based on the questions that are found on the right can assist.) .The teacher can also introduce students to the artists’ descriptions about their works. Note that groups tend to have different learning styles: some groups may be more verbal; other groups may be more visual; some groups will focus on only the written word. As such, some groups may be able to create their own posters, while other groups may not. Therefore the teacher should take this into consideration.

III. Discussion

What are the tools used by artists to create their messages?
How do the following mediums help the artists to convey their message?
Photograph / Drawing / Colors / Caption / Proportions / Blurring images / Sharpening images / other means ...

IV. Discussion Summary

The teacher will summarize the different messages coming from the posters and will discuss with the students whether there are other messages that could relate to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The teacher can summarize the process, and may allow students to write their feelings and conclusions on pages that they can attach to the posters.

V. Towards a New Creation

There are students for whom the creative process is a process which is difficult, uncomfortable or even threatening. In this case, they should be offered a more structured process. In this way, even if they are unable to create their own poster, students are still able to take part in the creation of the posters.

It is important to convey to students that the message of the posters must be fully expressed and take a central and pivotal role.

Students should think about the message they would like to pass on about the Holocaust. Ask them to write two visual ways in which it is possible to express this message.
In the next phase the students will actually create a poster following this process.
To have students think of something visual, have the students try to express why they think the message they chose is significant and why they think it is an important message for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

VI. Conclusion of the Process

To conclude this lesson, the posters created by the students can be displayed in an exhibition. Displaying them with a blank page next to them will give other students in the class / grade / at school the chance to comment on the posters and their significance.

Another way to display the posters could be online if the school and students are accustomed to using this medium. This would also enable students around the world to see the posters as well.

Approaches to conceptualization:

  • Why posters?
  • What are the differences between a poster and a painting? What is the purpose of each?
  • How does a designer approach holocaust memory and what is the purpose of his design ?
    Is the purpose commemoration? Tribute? Reaction? Reflection? Warning ? Catharsis? Legacy? Teaching tool?
  • What tools does a designer utilize in his creation?
    Some examples: historical photographs, text, modern photographs, drawings
  • What tools does the designer employ to deliver his message?
    Examples: metaphor, sarcasm, surprise, shock, emotional manipulation
  • What methods does the artist /designer use to create his message?

Limits of conceptualization:

  • If one did not experience an event, how do we conceptualize memory?
  • What is the impetus to design/create artwork about an event we ourselves did not experience?
  • Should there be limitations to Holocaust representation? Obligations?
    Are there artistic limitations? Are there ethical limitations?
  • Who sets these limits and obligations? Why?
  • Do those limits apply equally to survivors and those who did not survive? Why?

Memory:

  • What is memory?
    What is personal memory? What is collective memory?
  • What is "memory” for those who didn’t live through the Holocaust?
  • How does Holocaust memory differ with different cultures?
    Examples: Survivors? Citizens of countries who were occupied? Countries that perpetrated atrocities? Bystanders?
  • How and where do we collect or experience memory?
    Proximity to Holocaust survivors, survivors’ written and oral testimony, films, books, artwork, photographs