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Teaching the Holocaust Using Photographs

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In the video, "Teaching the Holocaust Using Photographs", ISHS staff member Franziska Reiniger discusses how you can explore Holocaust photography with your students. Introducing some general points to keep in mind when teaching using any photograph from the Holocaust, Ms. Reiniger then proceeds with two examples, demonstrating the remarkable differences we find in photographs taken from different points of view. The graphical elements within a photograph sometimes hint at the external circumstances surrounding the time and place when the photograph was taken, and be studying both we deepen our understanding of the Holocaust. The photographs discussed in this video are available for viewing and for downloading from our website.

Franziska Reiniger is a staff member at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem.

  • Part 1: Teaching the Holocaust Using Photographs
  • Part 2: Photographs as Propaganda
  • Part 3: Documentation of Atrocities: The Jewish Photographer Henryk Ross
  • More

    Archival footage and photographs:
    - Yad Vashem Photo Archive.
    - Yad Vashem Film Archive.
    - Yad Vashem Museum Collection
    - The Yad Vashem Visual Center
    - Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
    - Agentur Karl Höffkes
    - Bundesfilmarchiv/Transit Film GmbH.
    - Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, Israel / Photo Archive
    - Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

    Material from:
    Lodz Ghetto Album: The photographs of Henryk Ross, Archive of Modern Conflict & Chris Boot, Ltd, London, 2004. Courtesy Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

    Film segments:
    - Memories of the Eichmann Trial, Director: David Perlov (1979, Israel). Produced by: Israel Broadcasting Authority- Channel 1 Restoration (2011) produced by Yad Vashem – The Visual Center, Producers: Yael Perlov, Liat Benhabib With the support of the Forum for the Preservation of Audio-Visual Memory in Israel
    - Eichmann Trial testimony - Israel State Archives

    Every effort has been made to locate the copyright holders to obtain the appropriate permissions and apply the correct attributions. If you have any information that would help us in relation to copyright, please contact us at

    Film produced by Mikooka Productions -

Further Pedagogical Considerations

  • Highlight photography as a discipline in which we use faculties beyond only sight; consider the potential to attach meaning and create empathy.
  • Consider photographs critically: we need to be aware and try to find the conscious choices leading to the creation of the photograph, as well as the subsumed assumptions and approaches employed by the photographer.
  • Photographs offer rare glimpses of the people in the tragedy of the Holocaust. We can piece together the people photographed, something of their background, frameworks, people, families, etc.
  • The importance of contextualization: we cannot truly study the photograph without knowing the relevant historical information and circumstances.
  • Contextualization of purpose. For instance, we can use propaganda photographs, but considerable focus should be given to their purpose and context, the inherent differences in viewpoint between photographer and the people photographed, etc.
  • Photographs are an excellent resource to combine with other disciplines and artistic fields (e.g. poetry, testimony, literature, etc.)

Teaching aids