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Facing History and Ourselves- Confronting the American and Global Legacy of the Holocaust

Jaime Dudash/Zach Lindke, Andrew Parker/Ryan Baese/ Angela Chea

This grant would support Transportation and admission to the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. This hands on experience will allow every 9th grade American History 9 and the IB World History HL student the opportunity to view the museum collection and have a live presentation with a direct descendant of a Holocaust survivor.

The Zekelman Holocaust Center is one one of the preeminent regional holocaust museums in the United States. It was originally located in Bloomfield Hills and then built on their current location a beautiful new holocaust education campus in Farmington Hills, MI.

Each year when the American History 9 curriculum begins the Rise of Fascism/WWII unit, we have the opportunity to teach both the dark and grim realities of the period of time between 1933-1945 surrounding the Holocaust in Europe. This history and the books the students read in English 9 (Night by Elie Wiesel, as well as Maus I and Maus II by Art Spiegelman) allow students to step into the horrors that were bred by antisemitism, intolerance, injustice and a lack of humanity.

The Zekelman Holocaust Center campus is a tremendous classroom extension as the expert educators who staff the collection, the speakers who are descendants of holocaust survivors and the artifacts from a shared history allow students as well as adults to take a step back into this history, to learn lessons on how we can all be agents of change and righteousness in this moment.

The visit begins with a historical lesson to contextualize the history of intolerance of many groups and then descends into the near history of the 20th century both in Europe and the United States. History educators and trained docents will help take small groups of students through the galleries stopping to provide context and deeper understanding.

The conclusion of the galleries is a huge atrium where there is space for remembrance and the Postwar Period where those who were survivors would begin their live anew, in a diaspora few could have contemplated.

After student groups conclude the collection viewing, there is an opportunity to hear directly from descendants of Holocaust survivors in a presentation that allows them to experience a near Holocaust survivor story. (Due to age of many of the Holocaust survivors-these talks are given only on Sunday’s now). The museum says that after the students view the gallery these speakers are direct descendants or family members who bear witness to their family experience.

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