Music, Memory, and Resistance during the Holocaust

Learn how music helped to preserve dignity in the lives of Jews under Nazi rule.

Explore with your students the lives of Jews before World War II and examine music as a form of resistance.

These lessons will help your students:

  • Recognize how music comforts individuals during difficult moments
  • Understand how the lives of European Jews prior to World War II were characterized by richness in culture and diversity
  • Explore the complex emotions surrounding the use of music to survive, resist, and sustain spirit


These lessons are designed to be taught to middle or high school classes in approximately four 50-minute class periods.

Students draw on personal experiences with music to reflect on its ability to provide inspiration, comfort, and fight against injustice.

Students learn about the vibrant culture and diversity of Jewish life in Europe before the war and antisemitism's role in diminishing this richness.

Students broaden their understanding of resistance by exploring examples of music as spiritual and physical defiance to Nazi oppression.

Violins of Hope, Cleveland Uses Music and Drama to Teach About Resilience

Violins of Hope Education Concert by The Cleveland Orchestra combines music and theater to give educators and students a unique and powerful lens by which to view the important role of music in Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust.

To use the full concert recording in your classroom, please visit the ideastream video page and follow the password request instructions.

Violins of Hope Cleveland is a collaboration between Facing History and Ourselves, Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and ideastream.

Search Our Global Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.