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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources

Holocaust Header

IntroductionNuremberg Race Laws | Kristallnacht | Ghettos
Concentration CampsDachau | Bergen-Belsen | Auschwitz
Righteous Among the NationsGies | Schindler | Winton | Grueninger

Primary Source and Analysis Tools | Library of Congress Resources 
 Primary Source Sets | PDF Version

Library of Congress Resources


Herblock!: Psychopathic Ward. Herb Block attacked the isolationist policy of the United States government long before Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, because he understood that the fascists in Europe were an international issue. Block's cartoons attacking Francisco Franco in Spain, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Adolf Hitler in Germany demonstrated his matured style, with his deliberate and assured use of ink brush and pencil. The Depression and the war in Europe politicized Block, and he developed opinions that, at times, were at odds with those of his publishers.  

Herblock's History: Political Cartoons from the Crash to the Millennium. Through his cartoons, Block warns of the danger represented by fascist political gains in Europe and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany at the head of the Nazi party. During the 1930s and 1940s, Herb Block was an early supporter of aid to England and to European allies faced with Nazi aggression. He also supported measures to prepare America for the struggle against aggression. He cited Nazi outrages, giving them graphic form and visual power. He drew metaphors for the resilience of the human spirit, the inhumanity of war, and the duplicity of dictators.

American Memory

The Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress. The papers of the author, educator, and political philosopher, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) are one of the principle sources for the study of modern intellectual life. The Adolf Eichmann file deals with what was perhaps Arendt's best-known and most controversial work, Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt's conclusions about the nature and character of totalitarian rule in Nazi Germany, and her interpretation of the Jewish response to the Holocaust, prompted a strenuous and often emotional debates.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. This collection contains 2900 biographical interview obtained during the Depression years of 1936-1940. Writers contributed to this project through an employment program of the Works Progress Administration. The writers' chronicled interviews with Americans asked to recall significant events in their lives. The Holocaust is not mentioned specifically but there are many oral histories about Jewish life and opinions on Germany and Adolf Hitler.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945. The black-and-white photographs of the Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Collection are a landmark in the history of documentary photography. The images show Americans at home, at work, and at play, with an emphasis on rural and small-town life and the adverse effects of the Great Depression. Images pertaining to the war effort and defeating Nazi Germany and images from the Nazi saboteur trial are found in this collection.


Holocaust Cantata. The Master Chorale of Washington, in partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, presented the "Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps", a worked based on the songs and letter written by Nazi concentration camp prisoners. The cantata, composed and conducted by Donald McCullough, stands as a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Breaking the Holocaust Silence: A Hidden Hasidic Text of 1947. Gershon Greenberg delivers the 10th Annual Myron M. Weinstein Memorial Lecture on the Hebraic Book.

Women Against Tyranny: Poems of the Resistance During the Holocaust. Davi Walders speaks about her book Women Against Tyranny: Poems of the Resistance During the Holocaust.

Emissary of the Doomed. The little-known story of one man's attempt to save the Jews of Hungary.

Ibsen and Hitler: The Playwright, the Plagiarist and the Plot for the Third Reich. In "Ibsen and Hitler", Steven Sage discusses three Ibsen plays, "An Enemy of the People", "The Master Builder" and "Emperor and Galilean", which may have inspired Hitler's writings, speeches and thinking, and quite possibly some of his actions. When Hitler read Ibsen in 1908, he was swayed by a German literary cult then current, which held certain Ibsen dramas to be "prophecy". Through the years, Sage argues, Hitler paraphrased lines from the plays "and restaged highlights of their plots while assigning himself the starring role in this grand drama."

Prints and Photographs

Posters: Artist Posters. The online Artist Posters consist of a small but growing proportion of the more than 85,000 posters in the Artist Poster filing series. German propaganda posters with Hitler slogans for his presidential run and the dangers of the Jews to the Aryan nation are found in this collection.

Miscellaneous Items in High Demand. The "Miscellaneous Items" category consists of more than 80,000 descriptions of individuals images from a variety of the Prints & Photographs Division's photographic, print, drawing and architectural holdings. Images dealing with concentration camps show the disturbing  reality of life in these camps and could be too graphic for some students.

Veterans History Project

The War Episode Seven: A World without War, Concentration Camp Liberation. View photographs, transcripts and listen to interview form American soldiers who witnessed the devastation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Jewish Veterans of World War II. Fighting Nazi Germany took on special significance for one group of U.S. servicemen in the European Theater. Even those Jewish soldiers and sailors who were serving elsewhere in World War II understood that defeating the Axis would be a defeat for blind hatred of any ethnic group or nationality.

Teacher's Page

Presentations and Activities

Immigration. Observe the building of the nation. How have immigrant shaped this land? The tab for Polish/Russian immigrants has a subtitle Decade of Disaster describing the struggles of Jews with the rise of the Nazi party and how Jewish Americans tried to help.


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