Photography is a major primary resource in teaching the Holocaust in our classroom. In this educational environment, we present a variety of teaching aids and auxiliary materials to assist the educator in using photographs in the classroom. You will find a video in which we look at some of the considerations to keep in mind when choosing and examining photographs from the Holocaust period, a teacher's guide which includes a lesson plan and further pedagogical considerations, educational articles, additional materials and resources, and more.
Photographs are an excellent tool to use in the classroom, though, when using photographs to teach about the Holocaust we have to bear in mind that,
"Photographs have the kind of authority over imagination today, which the printed word had yesterday, and the spoken word before that. They seem utterly real. They come, we imagine, directly to us, without human meddling, and they are the most effortless food for the mind conceivable….The whole process of observing, describing, repeating and then imagining has been accomplished".1
And also that,
“[p]hotography does more than reflect reality; it also interprets it.”2
Teacher's GuideTeacher's Guide
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 relevant historical information.
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.)
Photographs do more than reflect reality; they also interpret it. Even when the photographer purports to reflect reality "objectively," components such as worldview, values, and moral perception affect the choice of the photographed object and the way it is presented.
To give an example on how to approach a photograph please read the following lesson plan.
Educational ArticlesEducational Articles
- “She Was there and She Told Me” - Testimonial Films Series
- Yad Vashem – The Photos Archive
- Jewish Resistance and Uprisings – Teaching through Films
- To Remember Their Faces - Teacher’s Guide Using Prewar Holocaust Photographs (Learning Environment)
- The Auschwitz Album
- Photographs of the Warsaw Ghetto
- Jews and Sport before the Holocaust: a Visual Retrospective
- Through the Lens of History - Mini Exhibits from the Yad Vashem Collections
- This Month in Holocaust History
- Anonymous no Longer