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5 lessons to better understand the complexity and challenges of liberation and rebuilding life. 

Image: Heinz Schwarz at the Space Needle, 1962. In 1940 Heinz Schwarz and his family fled from Berlin to Shanghai, China, a place that did not require a visa to enter. From there, he immigrated to Seattle, Washington, in 1948 at age 21. Donated by Heinz Schwarz. Read more about Heinz Schwarz. 


Holocaust Survivors' "Return to Life" - Lesson Plan

The purpose of these lessons is to provide students with an understanding of the political, legal, social, and emotional status of the Jewish survivors. Estimated lesson time is 60-90 minutes. Video testimony included.  Created by Echoes and Reflections. This is the first of three lessons in this unit (Unit 8). Go to Lesson.

 

Displaced Persons' Camps after the Holocaust - Lesson Plan

A critical issue that arose after liberation was that of the displacement of survivors. This lesson asks students to reflect on video testimony clips of survivors describing their experiences in displaced persons camps.  Created by Echoes and Reflections. This is the third of three lessons on the page (Unit 8). Go to Lesson. 

 

Post-War: Chaos and Challenges - Reading

The victorious Allies were faced with difficult decisions. How would they treat Germany and other defeated Axis powers? What would they do about the millions of people displaced by the war who were now homeless and often starving? Would it be possible to rebuild peace and stability in Europe? World War II ended up killing at least 19 million non-combatant civilians in Europe. Of those, 6 million were Jews, a full two-thirds of the pre-war Jewish population of Europe. For all those who remained, Jews and non-Jews, the end of the war did not bring an end to their problems. Reading and connection questions by Facing History and Ourselves. Go to Reading. 

 

How to Bring Nazi Leaders to Justice? - Reading

Long before the war was over, the Allied powers began to discuss how to hold Germany accountable for its wartime actions. They agreed that Germany had violated several internationally accepted rules of war. If the Nazi leaders were to be put on trial, however, the question was: What specific laws had they broken? The Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907, signed by the United States and all major European powers, had defined several laws of war, including how prisoners and populations of occupied countries must be treated, but there had been no agreement on punishment for those who violated such laws, and no procedures for conducting international trials had been established. Article and critical thinking questions created by Facing History and Ourselves. Go to Reading. 

 

Letters from a Dachau Liberator: Dr. David Wilsey

Captain David B. Wilsey, M.D., was a liberator of the Dachau concentration camp. He wrote numerous letters to his wife, many of which describe his observations, horror and anger. Students not only have access to these primary sources, including photographs, but there are suggested lessons and other resources provided.

In 2016, Clarice Wilsey donated the remarkable letters of her father, Captain David B. Wilsey, M.D., an army anesthesiologist present at the liberation of Dachau concentration camp, to the Holocaust Center for Humanity. 

The Wilsey collection features 280+ letters, photographs, and more from Dr. Wilsey’s time in the U.S. Army, including the liberation of Dachau and experiences thereafter healing survivors.  Researchers, historians, and students alike have found the letters extraordinary.  Dr. Wilsey and his family were longtime residents of Spokane, Washington, and keeping this historically significant collection in the Northwest, at the Holocaust Center in Seattle, was a priority of the Wilsey family.  

Although Dr. Wilsey rarely discussed his experiences at Dachau after the war, he wrote to his wife Emily in several letters in 1945 “to tell thousands so that millions will know what Dachau is and never forget the name of Dachau.”  To pay homage to this, Clarice Wilsey continues to share her father's story as a member of the Center's Speakers Bureau.

Go to Wilsey Collection, including letters and photographs.