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Teaching the Pre-Holocaust

Emerging pedagogy looks at life before wartime

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Haberdashery in the open market, Warsaw, ca. 1935-38.(Roman Vishniac. © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy the International Center of Photography)

A Vienna-based nonprofit, Centropa, is pushing a new way to teach the Holocaust to children: With the use of thousands of digitized photographs and other documents, you give kids a view of, in the words of one teacher, “the beautiful life of Jewish communities in Europe through personal stories. Students appreciate more what was lost and how diverse Jewish life was in Central and Eastern European life.”

As long as we’re plugging things Tablet Magazine editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse wrote in the New York Times, in April she published, in the paper’s magazine, a look at the work of famed photographer Roman Vishniac, whose portraits of pre-Holocaust shtetl life may have oversimplified the Eastern European Jewish experience. “After the war, it became difficult to view prewar images as anything but a prelude to destruction,” she wrote, “a backshadowing that distilled the complicated, multifaceted reality of prewar Jewish life into a two-dimensional shrine.” A new look at Vishniac, Newhouse suggested, would bring about a fuller appreciation of the breadth of the culture that was wiped out.

In Teaching Holocaust, Educators Focus on Prewar Lives, Not Just Camps [JTA]
Related: A Closer Reading of Roman Vishniac
Out of Focus [Tablet Magazine]

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Teaching the Pre-Holocaust

Emerging pedagogy looks at life before wartime

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