PREPARATORY lessons for your trip 

Before attending the Searching for Humanity please review the preparatory materials provided below! The goal of these lessons is to help the visitor to understand the background of the Holocaust and to recognize instance of "humanity" within the exhibit. These suggestions can be split and the latter part can be used as post-visit lessons.  

Pre-Visit Activities

Start a Journal and answer these questions:

What are three fact you know about WWII?
What are three facts you know about the Holocaust?
If you have ever heard a Holocaust survivor or a WWII liberator/veteran speak, what is one thing you remember most about their testimony?
Why is learning about the Holocaust and the defeat of the Nazis by the Allied forces important to study?

Understand the History

Explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website for basic background information: http://www.ushmm.org/
Start by exploring this animated map!
Take note at this useful glossary! 
Have your students read this article to gain more information on the Holocaust. 
Listen or read at least one Personal Testimony on the right side bar of the Introduction article. 
Watch two clips from the Historical Film Footage on the right side bar of the Introduction article. 
Learn about how the Nazi party came to power.
Understand "Kristallnacht"
What was the ghetto?
What was the Final Solution?
How were the camps liberated?

Student Involvement

Spend class time studying and researching America entering the war.
Introduce Clarence William's letter to the classroom (copies of letter found below). Provide a copy to each student or work in groups.
Create a list of vocabulary words for the students to define prior to reading the letter. Example: "crematory", "slave labor", "gas chambers"
Ask students to find out if any of their family members were in the war, were they in the army (even stateside) during WWII, or perhaps are they of European descent?
Ask students to reflect on these topic in their journals:
A soldier's life German 88's - what were these?
Correspondence - what was life like without the internet? how do we compare the soldier's communication then to our soldiers today?
Hard boiled eggs - why was Clarence eating eggs? What was the "law of the land" as these soldiers moved into European farms?
What is Life magazine? Can they find back copies from the time of WWII and the liberation?

For teachers familiar with the Holocaust curriculum, Echoes and Reflections: Holocaust Education for 21st Century Classrooms

Lesson 8 includes understanding the political, legal, social and emotional status of Jewish survivors. It also examines the roles of the liberators following the defeat of the Nazis at the end of World War II. Liberator testimonies (Howard Cwick and Paul Parks) are particularly good.

Clarence William's Letters

Above are the original copies of Clarence William's correspondence. Click on the photos to enlarge. Below you will find a copy for your students to read. Please print a copy of the letter, here for your students!

Monday, 30 April 45.

My Honey-
Well another month has passed and the war continues but I sincerely believe the end is near in sight and not too far distant.
Yesterday we traveled practically all day, of course in convoy that doesn’t mean covering too much distance. Speaking of Sunday afternoon driving, I have never seen so many vehicles and such an assortment. Every road into this town was solid with vehicles for miles in every direction. We are now far enough south that the weather is getting quite cold again in fact it rained and snowed some in the evening. Shortly after arriving here we were having coffee and K rations when the German 88’s cut loose on us with time fire. They fired between eighty and a hundred shells and every vehicle we have is now peppered with holes from the shrapnel, including a few tires ruined. We also have three purple hearts in the company now however no one was seriously injured. Most of us were still in the house when the barrage hit so immediately took off for the cellar. We really had a crowd down there including about ten civilians who hadn’t time to move out of the house as yet. The boys who were injured were caught outside and hit before they could take cover. Believe me that is one Sunday I will never forget. We have been picking up pieces of shrapnel all day and some came thru the roof and windows. Capt Bofardi found one piece about 41/2” long on his bed and it had come through the roof and ceiling. Oh well, enough of that but I don’t mind saying I was plenty scared.
We just had mail call and I received only one letter from you and dated April 2d. That is my first in four days and I can’t imagine where it could have been for a month. I also received a package from Klonus and Christensen but as yet I haven’t opened it. Right now I prefer to write you but know the contents will taste very good when I open it soon. Honey regarding the hard boiled eggs, please don’t send any as I have been practically living on them the past ten days. You see that’s one of the things we liberate and of course it is easier to prepare them by boiling than any other way.
Had a new experience today that I will never forget as long as I live. I had read a lot about concentration camps and the brutal treatment given the prisoners but often wondered if it were all true. Now I can vouch for it. The camp covered an area of probably ten square blocks and much of it was surrounded by high cement walls with barbed wire on top and electric wires over those. A railroad runs through the camp and we saw an entire train of boxcars with dead human bodies that they had no time to dispose of. Several press photographers were there so if you see any pictures in the newspapers or Life Magazine I would appreciate your letting me know and saving them for me. Some of our medics are in the pictures and they may even be shown in the movies as there was one movie camera there.
Inside the camp was one building used as a crematory rather it was built especially for that purpose. It had one room for showers which the prisoners could get wet and open up the pores of their skin then into the gas chamber. Here they were killed, removed and stacked like cordwood until they could be shoved in the ovens. They were stacked in four rooms and the boys estimated around 700 – 800 bodies awaiting cremating. Those laying in the box cars were nothing but skin and bone and on many, the thighs of their legs weren’t as big as my forearm. Inside the camp they had factories, machine shops, hospital, and foundries where they used the slave labor guarded by SS Troops to make the tools of war etc. In the largest single section of the camp was several thousand prisoners from every country in Europe and even some Americans. They were now displaying all their national flags and it was very colorful. We talked with one prisoner from Yugoslavia (formerly a bank vice-president) who had been there 20 months. His neighbor had reported him listening to BBC and American news broadcasts. He was well educated and spoke English very well. Around this section was barbed wire entanglements and cement pill boxes for the guards every few yards. There was also a deep ditch surrounding the section inside the wire. Outside there was a moat running around the section. They told us the men on the train had been riding without food for 18 days and the prisoners told us they worked 7 days a week from 5:00 AM until 8:00 PM. There were several guards still laying around the ground where they had been killed. Most of them they didn’t bother to shoot but merely beat them to death with rifle butts when our troops took over. Thousands of our troops visited the camp today and I doubt very much if there will be another SS Trooper taken prisoner. It is almost unbelievable that anyone could be hardened to the point of doing the brutal things they did and it certainly gives me a different viewpoint toward the German people. This is all probably boring to you but you just can’t picture such sights without seeing them with your own eyes.
Well darling guess that will be all for today except to tell you again I love you worlds.

Always Yours
Clarence.


— One letter found in a shoe box stuffed with correspondence to his wife. On loan from Dr. Tom Williams, son of Staff Sergeant Clarence Williams of the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division.

Searching for Humanity Video

The following 35-minute video contains sections of Nebraska Holocaust survivors’ testimony .  It follows the Holocaust in chronological order. It is valuable preparation for your students’ visit to the Searching for Humanity exhibit.  Pieces of testimony on the video will be referred to as students go through the exhibit. 

This video is for educational purposes only.