On the eve of WWII, the interwar Jewish world was creative and complex, a rich mosaic, full of change and hope for the future. Within a decade, most of Europe would be conquered by Nazi Germany. By 1945 two out of every three of these Jews were silenced forever. The sights and sounds of this video are those of the Jews of Europe before the Holocaust. In their own words, through their diaries, letters and notebooks, and through their family films.
Sheryl Silver-Ochayon is a staff member at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem
Further Pedagogical Considerations
- We cannot understand the scope or meaning of the tragedy of the Holocaust without understanding who and what was lost in it. These films and diary entries try to convey a glimpse into the vibrancy of the prewar Jewish world.
- It should be stressed, that this video precedes the study of history - it’s goal is not to provide detailed historical information about the Jews and Europe before WWII, but rather provide fundamental insights about the Holocaust and the Jews who perished.
- Note the Jews were an integral part of the fabric of life in Europe. They undergo the same complex processes of modernization that Europe was going through.
- Point out to your students that for Jews before the War, life was not lived with knowledge of grim future on the horizon. The future was open, and for Jews in many places - not necessarily grim.
- What do the various videos we see tell us about the life of Jews before the war? Were these images surprising to you?