This lesson accompanies the documentary film, Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust. In this lesson, students view the final segment of the film and reflect upon some of its more complex aspects, including how some risked their own lives to rescue others during the Holocaust. In addition, students further explore the personal values of the film's characters and observe the ways parents often try to pass down their own values from generation to generation.
It is preferable for your students to have at least a basic understanding of the Holocaust--especially a sense of the long history of antisemitism in Poland before and in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust--before watching the film. Between the years 1939-1945 the Germans, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, invaded much of Eastern and Western Europe and killed millions of people, including civilian populations of men, women, and children.
One of the groups singled out by the Nazis for the most brutal attack were Europe's Jews. Almost 6 million died in ghettos, concentration camps, death camps, or as forced laborers. They died of disease and starvation, but most were systematically murdered in killing operations between the years 1941-1945. One of the hardest hit countries was Poland, a country where Jews had been living for a thousand years and that had the largest Jewish population in Europe aside from the former Soviet Union. This history is well covered in the Facing History and Ourselves resource book, Holocaust and Human Behavior and The Jews of Poland.
"Outsiders in Eastern Europe," an excerpt from the introduction to The Jews of Poland, provides a helpful background to the history of the Jewish people living in Poland. Students should use this resource to explore the following questions:
- How did the Jews of Poland interact with their non-Jewish neighbors at different periods of time?
- What are the historical circumstances that impacted these interactions?
You also may choose to create a web quest for your students in which they will explore the Jewish Virtual Library, which gives a history of Jewish life in Poland. Students should explore the website to find answers to the questions listed above. If you do not have access to a computer lab you can print out materials from the website for students to read and gather information.
Lesson three provides several activities that can be used to evaluate student understanding of the main themes and concepts presented in the film. Teaching strategy 1 in lesson 3 invites students to write a speech they would give to honor the Mucha family. The speech should demonstrate what they learned from watching the film about the risks that individuals and families took to save the lives of others. Students should also demonstrate what they learned about the complexity of forgiveness and the legacy of the Holocaust.
Teaching strategy 2 in lesson 3 is a good activity for helping students identify the main idea and themes of the film. In this strategy, students are asked to think about why the filmmakers chose the name Hiding and Seeking for the film. You can ask students to write a paragraph explaining the title of the documentary.
- Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior.
- Standard 2: Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership and different ways that groups function.
- Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.
- Standard 41: Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II. Benchmark 2: Understands the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish culture and European society (e.g., the chronology of the Nazi "war on the Jews," and the geography and scale of Jewish deaths resulting from this policy; personal reasons for resistance to or compliance with Nazi policies and orders; the brutality of Nazi genocide in the Holocaust as revealed in personal stories of the victims.)
- Standard 1: Conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.
- Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective.
- Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
- Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.
- Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.
Behavioral Studies Level IV (Grades 9-12) World History Level IV (Grades 9-12)
Era 8, A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945 Historical Understanding Level IV (Grades 9-12) Language Arts Level IV (Grades 9-12)