Poet and Holocaust survivor Sonia Weitz begins I Promised I Would Tell, her collection of poems about her experiences during this dark period of history, with the following lines:
Come, take this giant leap with me
into the other world . . . the other place
where language fails and imagery deﬁes,
denies man’s consciousness . . . and dies
upon the altar of insanity.1
In this lesson’s first activity, students learn that to study this history, and to bear witness to the depravity of the crimes committed during the Holocaust, is to take Weitz’s “giant leap.” Learning about the Holocaust requires us to examine events in history and examples of human behavior that both unsettle us and elude our attempts to explain them.
Before taking the “giant leap” Weitz describes, it is crucial for students to consider how they might form a thoughtful, respectful, and caring classroom community while engaging with the deeply affecting depiction of this dark period of history in Schindler’s List. The second activity in this lesson guides the class to do so by creating a class contract. The contract demonstrates to students that both the teacher and their classmates value and respect their voices, and it establishes rules and norms for proper engagement with such a powerful film.
- 1 : Sonia Schreiber Weitz, I Promised I Would Tell (Brookline, MA: Facing History and Ourselves, Inc., 2012), 66.