HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 110 Image 3 – Mass accommodation in Opole Ghetto. Courtesy CENTROPA. In working with photographs of ghettos or any situational event, the context in which they were taken is invaluable. Resource sites such as CENTROPA and Yad Vashem enable learners not only to ask research questions, but provide an avenue for them to acquire the information they seek. Carefully deconstructed and contexualised, such photographs emphasise the human dimension to historical events, and help personalize history for learners.
Liberation Photographs: Liberation photographs can also challenge students to think not only about the joys of liberation, but also the harsh reality that often accompanied it. Photographs of ticker-tape parades, and civilians joyful at news that the war was finally over, can lead to an overly optimistic view of how Holocaust survivors experienced liberation. Similarly, photographs taken immediately upon liberation of the camps may overwhelm students causing them to disengage from the process of learning about the complexity of the Holocaust. Photographs of camp liberation scenes may also be quite graphic in their depictions. None of this, however, is meant to detract from the value of these photographs for historical and education purposes. Indeed, it was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, who urged government officials in Washington and London to send newspaper editors to document and record what was being discovered in the concentration camps. As a result, there is a vast collection of photographs and archival film footage of the liberation of the camps which serve, in posterity, as a reminder to the crimes committed by the National Socialist regime. Such images may be too graphic for most classrooms. As recommended in the teaching guidelines of the USHMM: “Graphic material should be used judiciously and only to the extent necessary to achieve the lesson objective. Try to select images and texts that do not exploit the students’ emotional vulnerability or that might be construed as disrespectful to the victims themselves.” 9 Respect for the victims of the Holocaust, valuing our students and being mindful of their emotional and cognitive needs, and carefully choosing photographs to build critical thinking and analytical skills are the foundation on which using archival photographs is based. Layered with other primary and secondary sources, including the testimony of Holocaust survivors, photographs offer students an invaluable visual resource for learning. These visual images are a powerful tool for teaching the Holocaust and engaging students to continue learning, long after they have left the classroom. 111 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE