Faces of the Holocaust: The Victim

Meet Salamo Arouch, a young Jewish boxer from Greece. He was the Balkan light-medium weight boxing champion with an unbeaten record. When the Nazis began deporting Jews in 1943, he never thought he would box again. But in a warehouse in Auschwitz, Salamo found himself back in the ring, in violent brutal matches staged to “entertain” the SS officers. No longer fighting for a title, he was fighting for his life. After watching the video, the prompts below can be used to engage students in thought-provoking discussion about what they have learned.

  1. Maya Angelou wrote in The New York Times on January 21, 1993, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” How do you think Maya Angelou’s words apply to remembering the stories of victims of the Holocaust?
  2. While Jews were the largest targetted group by the Nazi Party, there were other victim groups, including the Roma and Sinti, mentally and physically disabled individuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others. How should we balance preserving the Jewish story, while also remembering the other victim groups?
  3. Psychologists have identified the impact of the Holocaust on children of survivors and the idea of intergenerational trauma, including Dr. Rachel Yehuda who found that trauma can be passed down genetically through DNA. Are children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors also victims?
  4. The Warsaw Ghetto, an armed uprising, is the most well-known example of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. See this article for a list of examples of resistance. How is each form of resistance powerful in its own way?
  1. Utilize our film guide about the Victim video.
  2. Prepare a gallery walk based on the United States Holocaust Museum’s Behind Every Name a Story. Students should silently walk around the room, read the stories of 5-10 victims, and journal their feelings. Then, the class should debrief their reactions.
  3. Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation has recorded over 50,000 testimonies of victims of the Holocaust. Write a letter to him about what this foundation has contributed to society.
  4. Students should complete a K-W-L chart about resistance during the Holocaust by first filling out what they know about resistance and what they want to know. They should then read this article about different types of resistance and complete the column of what they learned.
  5. There were many attempts at Jewish resistance through uprisings. Show this map of where Jewish resistance in ghettos and maps happened from 1941-1944. Each student should pick a different place and research the uprising that took place there, write a summary of what they learned, and then share what they learned with the class.
  1. The term “collective memory” refers to how a social group’s identity is shaped by its past. How do you think the memory of the Holocaust impacts how you understand Judaism?
  2. What do you feel when you hear the stories of the victims?
  3. Natan Sharansky was released after 9 years in the Soviet gulag and was supposed to walk across the Glienicke Bridge from East to West Berlin in 1986. His former KGB guards told him to “walk straight across,” but he instead zigzagged as he walked across. At that moment, he refused to be given an order and protested. What do you learn from his story?
  4. In her bestselling book, The Choice, Auschwitz survivor Edith Eva Eger described how she remained positive, even after both her parents were murdered. She said she learned that “the biggest concentration camp is in your own mind and the key is in your pocket.” What do you think she wants people to learn from her experience?
  5. Read this article on the Nazi-Fighting Women of the Jewish Resistance. The subheading asks, “They went undercover, smuggled revolvers in teddy bears and were bearers of the truth. Why hadn’t I heard their stories?” How would you answer the author’s question?

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