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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Journey of Discovery

Rationale

The central guiding principle in all of the educational programming of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem focuses on the human story of people in the heart of western civilization. The Holocaust is relevant to students of all ages. Our aim is to present Jewish people as human beings with discernable identities which the Germans planned to destroy in the name of their murderous racist ideology. From the dust and loss, we are obliged to retrieve the humanity of the victims and uncover families and communities as well as their culture that was annihilated during the Holocaust.

Our aim is twofold: First, to return to the victims their names and faces and thus to thwart the stated Nazi intention of murdering them and wiping out their memory; second, to learn about the victims so that we can remember them.

Jewish history is handed down from generation to generation and strengthens the sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Education imbues the historical narrative with meaning. As educators, we have a heavy responsibility to transmit this complex and difficult subject matter.

Our educational approach also aspires to instill in the pupils a feeling of hope. Studying the Holocaust can generate a feeling of helplessness, but we aim to create a dialogue with the past for a better future.

Since the late 1950s, Yad Vashem, in cooperation with Jewish communities and organizations around the world, has spearheaded a national project of memorializing as many victims as possible through the collection of Pages of Testimony.

Pages of Testimony serve as symbolic tombstones and commemorate the identities and life stories of each victim that the Nazis murdered. The Pages are submitted by survivors, family members or friends and present the names, biographical details and photographs (if available) of the victims. These Pages are kept in the Hall of Names of the Historical Museum at Yad Vashem.

Millions of victims are still nameless. The generation of Holocaust survivors is naturally diminishing as they pass on and the collection of the missing names has become a major priority in an effort to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims. This race against the clock involves engaging the only people that knew and remember the victims who can still provide the information to preserve their identities.

By collecting Pages of Testimony, pupils become active partners in this project of preserving memory for the future.

Moreover, the activity provides a different approach to Holocaust studies from the usual frontal learning experience in the classroom. This project involves the pupil on a personal level with people directly connected with Holocaust victims and the learning process becomes real, independent and personalized.