Echoes & Reflections Timeline of the Holocaust UNIT 7 – RESCUERS AND NON – JEWISH RESISTANCE – Timeline of the Holocaust
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Resource Overview

Pedagogy for Instruction

Lesson Plans

NEW: Timeline of the Holocaust

Audio Glossary

NEW: Schindler's List

Classroom Poster Series


Our Lesson Plans provide a unique experience for educators to teach about the Holocaust effectively and interactively. Lessons are organized by topics that represent major themes associated with the Holocaust in an order that is roughly chronological; the modular design of the Lessons allows for adaption and customization to specific grade levels and subject areas. The integration of rich content in each Lesson helps students construct an authentic and comprehensive portrait of the past as they frame their own thoughts about what they are learning, resulting in a deeper level of interest and inquiry. Each lesson includes:
  • Step-by-step procedures
  • Estimated completion time
  • Resources labeled by icons        direct teachers to the piece of content named in the procedures
  • Print-ready pages as indicated by  are available as PDFs for download
For more information, questions or concerns please contact us.


December 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, which depicts the true story of Oskar Schindler—a man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. It was Spielberg’s experience making this film that inspired him to collect and preserve the testimonies of over 54,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, a pursuit which ultimately led to the creation of what is now USC Shoah Foundation.

In honor of Universal Pictures’ rerelease of Schindler’s List, Echoes & Reflections has created a short, classroom-ready Companion Resource, that will help educators to provide important historical background and context to the film, as well as explore powerful true stories of rescue, survival, and resilience with their students.

Additionally, the following videos, recorded at Yad Vashem, feature Schindler survivors who speak of the impact Oskar Schindler had on their lives.

Eva Lavi was the youngest survivor from Schindler’s list. She was two years old when the war began.
Nahum Manor met and fell in love with his wife, Genia, in Schindler’s factory. Watch him read a letter at Schindler’s gravesite, expressing what he meant to them.

Visit the IWitness page commemorating the 25th anniversary of Schindler’s List for numerous additional resources to support teaching with this film.

Echoes & Reflections is excited to announce the launch of our new poster series: Inspiring the Human Story, for which teachers can request one free set (three posters) for their classrooms.

The posters (each 24’x 36’), feature the words and experiences of Holocaust survivor and memoirist Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt, and Anne Frank rescuer, Miep Gies. Each promotes meaningful conversation and reflection in the classroom and inspires students with powerful human stories of the Holocaust that can continue to guide and inform their steps forward.

To support you in these efforts, we have also compiled several suggested classroom activities from teachers in our network that may be of use and interest.

Order your set today at no cost!

Please note: In order to reach the maximum number of teachers with this limited opportunity, we are only able to provide one poster set per teacher. Additionally, we are only able to send poster sets to US addresses.

We are currently not taking orders at this time. Please check back for future opportunities.




Below is information to keep in mind when teaching the content in this unit. This material is intended to help teachers consider the complexities of teaching about rescuers and aid providers and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.

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  • During the Holocaust, six million Jews were murdered, among them 1.5 million children. It is unknown how many people managed to survive through the situations described in this unit, but it is known that they were only the fortunate few. While students want to relate to successful rescue attempts, they should be reminded that most attempts failed and the victim, and in some cases both the rescuer and the victim, were murdered when they were caught.

  • It is important for students to understand that people like the ones they will learn about in this unit were the exception rather than the rule. The Holocaust is a grim reminder of how indifference can become the norm. Reviewing rescue attempts in light of the millions of bystanders makes this lesson even more important to study.

  • A rescuer might seem to students as a perfect person with “angelic” characteristics. This can cause students to feel distant from the rescuer’s acts. Discuss with students that those individuals identified as “Righteous Among the Nations” (e.g., Oskar Schindler) were “normal” people with human faults even though they performed “righteous acts.” In doing so, students can better relate to the rescuers and begin to see that ordinary people can perform extraordinary acts, and such actions can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Information about rescuers like the “Righteous Among the Nations” should be taught within the larger context of the Holocaust. Learning about rescuers without focusing on other aspects of the Holocaust might give students the impression that rescuers were the majority, when in fact they were a very small portion of the population.

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This unit provides students with an opportunity to learn about the types of rescue that occurred in Nazi-occupied Europe and to consider the moral and ethical choices that non-Jews made in order to help Jews survive. The unit also outlines the obstacles and dangers that hidden children faced during the Holocaust. Throughout the unit, students have an opportunity to consider the price of apathy and indifference in the face of injustice.

  • Name the various forms of assistance provided to Jews by non- Jews during the Holocaust.

  • Analyze the motivations of non-Jewish rescuers in their efforts to help Jews survive during the Holocaust.

  • Evaluate the moral and ethical choices individuals and groups made when deciding whether or not to help Jews.

  • Identify the risks involved when non-Jews helped Jews hide or escape.

  • Describe the obstacles and dangers that hidden children had to overcome in order to have a chance to survive.

  • Discuss both the content and the messages in a clip of visual history testimony.

  • Examine the price of apathy and indifference in the face of injustice.

The materials in this unit address many Common Core State Standards.
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60-90 minutes


Rescuers and Aid Providers

1Write the word “altruism” on the board. Have students brainstorm the meaning of the term and record their responses. Help students consider the following key elements of altruism if they are not offered during the brainstorming session:
  • directed toward helping another or others

  • involves a high degree of risk or sacrifice to the helper

  • no external reward

  • voluntary action

2Introduce students to Arie Van Mansum and Leslie Banos and then show their testimonies. Follow with a discussion using the questions below.

Biographical Profile »

Biographical Profile »
  • How does Arie Van Mansum say he became involved in helping to hide Jews?

  • To what does Arie attribute his willingness to help Jews during the Holocaust?

  • How does Leslie Banos say he got involved in the resistance movement?

  • What specific things did Leslie and his family do to help people?

  • To what does Leslie attribute his willingness to help Jews during the Holocaust?

  • What risks did Arie and Leslie face once they decided to provide aid?

  • Do Arie’s and Leslie’s actions fit the description of “altruism”? Explain your response.

3On the board or on chart paper, draw a circle and put a “V” in the middle for “victim.” Ask students to identify victims of the Holocaust. Draw a larger circle around the first circle and put a “P” for “perpetrator.” Have students identify perpetrators during the Holocaust. Draw a third larger circle that intersects the first two and put a “B” for “bystander.” Ask students to identify bystanders during the Holocaust. Have students study the diagram and discuss what happens to a bystander when he or she makes the decision to no longer be a bystander but to help the victim (i.e., he or she now also becomes a victim as in the case of Arie Van Mansum).
4Ask students if deciding to take this risk of becoming a victim yourself is an example of altruism. Allow time for them to share their thinking and also discuss the following questions:
  • What are some possible reasons why people were altruistic during the Holocaust? (e.g., religious beliefs, personal experience, upbringing)

  • Why do you think most people remained indifferent to what was going on around them? (e.g., fear, not seeing others as part of them)

5Distribute Those Who Dared to Rescue. As students read the handout, have them prepare a graphic organizer or make a list of the various forms of rescue by which non-Jews saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.

Those Who Dared to Rescue View More »
6Have a large-group discussion reviewing the forms of rescue discussed in the handout. Have students brainstorm the qualities that would motivate people to help others at the risk of their own lives and possibly the lives of their families and friends. Use some or all of the questions below to guide the discussion.
  • Why would someone agree to hide another?

  • What could be the possible motivation for doing so?

  • Think about the terms “help” and “rescue.” How, if at all, are these terms different?

  • In the context of the Holocaust, how do you understand the difference between these two terms? Can you think of a specific time when help was needed rather than rescue, and of times when Jews needed to be rescued?

  • What are the possible risks in trying to help someone?

  • What are the possible risks in trying to rescue someone?

  • What are some of the basic human needs that must have been provided by a rescuer to a victim?

  • Would you characterize those individuals who helped Jews as heroes? Why or why not?

  • Would you characterize those who rescued Jews as heroes? Why or why not?

7Distribute Anne Frank’s Legacy, and read together as a class. Continue the earlier discussion about rescuers, using some or all of the questions below.

Anne Frank's Legacy View More »
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  • How did you feel reading Miep Gies’s speech?

  • What reasons did Miep give for helping to hide the Frank family?

  • Would you characterize Miep as an altruistic person? Why or why not?

  • What does the word “empathy” mean? How is “empathy” different from “sympathy”? [Optional: Have students look up the definitions of “empathy” and “sympathy” in a dictionary and share their findings.]

  • What life experiences prior to meeting the Frank family prepared Miep to empathize with the Frank family’s situation?

  • How many people were involved in hiding the Frank family?

  • Miep does not see herself as a hero; she says that those in hiding were the heroes. Do you agree with this? Explain your thinking.

  • In paragraph three, Miep talks about “blaming the victim” for his or her own troubles. What does it mean to “blame the victim”? What are some contemporary examples of blaming the victim? (e.g., a woman out alone is “asking” to be raped, tourists on vacation “throwing a lot of money around” are “asking” to have their wallets or purses stolen).

  • In the description given to us by Miep of the morning ritual, she describes the Jews standing silent. What does victimizing a person do to his or her self-image? Why was Miep upset?

  • Discuss Miep’s statement, “Many children are told to mind their own business only. When those children become adults, they might look the other way if people ask for help.”

  • Do you think that parents and other significant adults (e.g., teachers, religious leaders) have a responsibility to teach children to act when they see injustice? What are some ways that adults might model this behavior?

  • How does the Holocaust continue to serve as an example of the price of apathy and indifference to individuals and society?

  • In addition to apathy, what else might have influenced the behavior and decisions of bystanders during the Holocaust?


60-90 minutes


Righteous Among the Nations

1To begin this lesson, introduce students to Renee Scott, show her clip of testimony, and discuss the following questions:

Biographical Profile »
  • What does Renee Scott say she did to help rescue Jews?

  • How many false papers does Renee estimate were made each week at the Chamber of Commerce?

  • Why was what Renee did so dangerous?

2Give students an introduction to the phrase “Righteous Among the Nations.” Explain that in 1953, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority Law, which created Yad Vashem ( Yad Vashem received the mandate to identify and recognize non-Jews who had risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews in countries that had been under Nazi rule or that had collaborated with the German regime. The historical account of the Holocaust would not be complete without the amazing stories of the “Righteous Among the Nations.”
3Tell students that a committee of judges discusses each and every person who is a candidate for becoming a “Righteous Among the Nations.” Ask students to think about what the main criteria for receiving this designation might be and list their answers on the board or chart paper. Distribute Yad Vashem Criteria for “Righteous Among the Nations” and review together.

Yad Vashem Criteria for "Righteous Among the Nations" View More »
4After reviewing the handout, allow time for students to share their observations about the material. If needed, use guiding questions like those below.

Righteous Among the Nations
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  • Do you agree with the “Righteous Among the Nations” criteria? Why or why not?

  • Is there something else that you expected to see in the criteria? If so, what?

  • Did you think that the overall number of individuals identified as “Righteous Among the Nations” would be higher? Why or why not?

  • Are you surprised by any of the information listed on the chart of “Righteous Among the Nations” by country? If so, what surprises you or what question/s does the information raise for you?

5Distribute Rescue in Denmark. Direct the class to turn to the first page of the handout, and choose a volunteer to begin reading out loud. When the reader has finished reading the first paragraph, pause and ask the group:

Rescue in Denmark View More »
  • How was the situation for Danish Jews different from Jews in other German-occupied countries until 1943?

After reading the second, third, and fourth paragraphs, pause and ask the group:

  • What event propelled the underground in Denmark to go into action?

  • What made Helsingor (Elsinore) an ideal place for Jews to go if they wanted to escape Nazi-occupied territory?

After reading the fifth and sixth paragraphs, ask the group:

  • Why might Ronne and Kior have been interested in helping the Jews?

  • What reasons might they have had besides humanitarian ones?

After reading the seventh, eighth, and ninth paragraphs, ask the group:

  • How did the underground keep the Jewish children from crying on the boats to Sweden?

  • How many trips did the Elsinore Sewing Club take to Sweden?

  • In addition to Jews, who else did the Elsinore Sewing Club rescue?

  • What risks did the people who were involved with this “club” take when they agreed to help rescue Jews?

  • How is the story of the rescue in Denmark unique?

  • What kind of cultural and political systems should a nation create in order to be able to participate/organize such a moral action?

6Close with a general discussion about why students think that some individuals and groups decided not to accept the bystander role during the Holocaust. Encourage them to reflect on ways that they and others that they know do and do not accept the role of bystanders in their school and communities.


60 minutes


Dilemmas of Hidden Children

1Begin this lesson by asking students to consider what it meant to hide during the Holocaust. Use the following questions to help guide the discussion:
  • What were some of the problems that people in hiding had to face?

  • How do you think people in hiding got food? What kind of food did they get?

  • What threats did those in hiding face on a daily basis?

  • What survival mechanisms did people use?

  • How might adults in hiding cope differently than children? What emotions, challenges, or concerns might face an adult in hiding that would not apply to a child?

2Introduce students to Kristine Keren, Ursula Levy, and Leslie Banos. After watching the testimonies of these individuals, discuss the following:

Biographical Profile »

Biographical Profile »

Biographical Profile »

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  • How long does Kristine Keren say she and her family hid in the sewers?

  • What does Kristine say were some of the daily struggles that she and her family faced while hiding?

  • Where does Ursula Levy say she and her brother were hidden?

  • Why do you think Ursula’s mother agreed to have her children baptized by the Catholic Church?

  • How does Leslie’s testimony provide insight into how difficult it was to hide Jews during the Holocaust?

  • What does Leslie say his aunt did in order to feed the people they were hiding?

  • After listening to the testimonies of Kristine, Ursula, and Leslie, what role do you think trust played in the experiences of those in hiding?

  • How difficult do you think it was for those in hiding to trust anyone?

  • What feelings do you have after listening to these testimonies?

3Have each student complete a “Minute Paper” assessment by responding to the question: What will you remember most from this lesson and why? Instruct students to submit their responses to you before leaving class or, if time permits, have students discuss how they responded to the question with a partner.
Reflect & Respond

The questions below, used in class or as homework, prompt students to reflect on what they are learning and its meaning in their own lives and in society.

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These queries are excellent for journaling, allowing students to create their own primary source material. Keep in mind, the sensitive and emotional nature of the topics may preclude teacher evaluation. If journaling is used as an assessment tool, assure students that they will not be evaluated negatively for expressing opinions that may be different from others in class or from the teacher’s.

  • Think about the people you met in this unit. All of them see themselves as “ordinary” people and yet they all did extraordinary things. How might this be explained? Why do you think some people became rescuers during the Holocaust while most remained bystanders? What moral choices were made by rescuers during the Holocaust and what were the ongoing challenges they faced?

  • Think about someone whom you would describe as a hero. Write about this person and identify the reasons why you would call him or her a hero. The person can be a public figure, a historical figure, or someone in your personal life.

  • Write a letter to someone that you learned about in this unit. Tell the person what you are thinking and feeling after learning about his/her experiences.

  • Reflect on the meaning of the statement from the Talmud, “He who saves one life, it is as though he has preserved the existence of the entire world.”

  • Write about a time when you made a conscious decision to help someone in a difficult situation or about a time when someone came forward to help you. Describe the event in detail and tell how you felt during the situation. What were some of the complications or difficulties that you faced? Were there any moral or ethical dilemmas that needed to be addressed? What were your feelings after the situation ended?

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Making Connections

The additional activities and projects listed below can be integrated directly into the lessons in this unit or can be used to extend lessons once they have been completed. The topics lend themselves to students’ continued study of the Holocaust as well as opportunities for students to make meaningful connections to other people and events, including relevant contemporary issues. These activities may include instructional strategies and techniques and/or address academic standards in addition to those that were identified for the unit.

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1Visit IWitness ( for testimonies, resources, and activities to help students learn more about rescuers and aid providers during the Holocaust.
2Have half the class read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anchor Books, 1996) and the other half of the class read Miep Gies’ Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (Touchstone, 1988). Have students work in pairs or small groups to develop graphic organizers comparing and contrasting the experiences of Anne Frank and Miep Gies. Encourage students to refer to the Timeline to understand the events that they are reading about within a larger context.
3Divide the class into pairs of students. Assign each pair one of the names on the Selected List of “Righteous Among the Nations.Instruct students to research the individual or group and prepare a presentation for the class using one of the formats suggested below or another format of their choice. Among other resources, encourage students to access Yad Vashem’s database of the “Righteous Among the Nations” (
  • Create an illustrated storyboard of the person’s (or group’s) rescue actions.

  • Prepare a dialogue between the rescuer and a person who was rescued.

  • Create a collage that represents this person (or group) and his/her/their actions.

  • Write an article that praises the accomplishments of the rescuer.

Have students present their research projects to the class. At the end of each presentation, ask the class to consider whether the Yad Vashem committee made a good choice in selecting this person or group and give reasons why or why not.
4Share with students the brief introduction to the Kindertransport in the corresponding Note. After the introduction, have students work in small groups to generate a list of questions that they still have about this rescue effort. If needed, share a few sample questions with students: How old were the children? How were the children selected? Why did the transports stop in 1940? Where did the children go once they arrived in Great Britain?

After groups have completed their list of questions, instruct them to organize the questions into sub-topics and then decide who will research the answers to each set of questions. Have students find the answers to the questions using multiple print and digital sources and develop a PowerPoint, written report, or multimedia report to present their findings. Share presentations on the class website or wiki. Students may want to listen to visual history testimonies available on IWitness ( or watch Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000) as part of their research.
5Using an online map creator (e.g., ZeeMap, Click2Map, StepMap), have students create their own interactive maps representing the material outlined on the Yad Vashem Criteria for “Righteous Among the Nations” handout.  Maps should indicate those countries where individuals have been awarded this recognition as well as how many people/groups have been identified as “Righteous Among the Nations” per country.

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concentration camp
extermination camp
"Final Solution"
Kristallnacht Pogrom  
"Righteous Among the Nations"
Yad Vashem