CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Surviving the Holocaust

Social Studies, English Language Arts
2 lessons
To recognize the personal after effects of a traumatic historical event
Students develop an information sheet to help people avoid triggering Holocaust memories in aging survivors.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to think of a pleasant memory. How does it make them feel? Ask students to think of an unpleasant memory. How does it make them feel? Which of those two feelings are you more likely to suppress? Why?

Outline the Opportunity

Have students visit the topic Life After Auschwitz on the CBC Digital Archives website. They will view the clips "Reliving genocide" and "Dr. Henry Krystal on Survival Syndrome," as well as the Story and Did You Know? Sections.  Students will conduct research from these clips in order to answer the following questions:

1. Approximately how many Holocaust survivors are living in Canada?
2. What has caused elderly Holocaust survivors in Canada to relive their imprisonment in Nazi death camps? What are some of the triggers?
3. What are the medical terms for this phenomenon?
4. What special training do staff and volunteers receive at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto?
5. What type of therapy is offered to patients at Baycrest?
6. What other initiatives has Baycrest recently undertaken to help Holocaust survivors and their families?
7. What recent debate has emerged about the children of Holocaust survivors?

Lead a class discussion about students' findings. Have students work in pairs to develop an information sheet directed at visitors and guests of geriatric facilities where Holocaust survivors live. The information sheet should list ways to avoid actions which trigger traumatic memories, as well as suggestions to offer patients the opportunity to recognize their history in a positive atmosphere.

Revisit and Reflect

Invite students to display and discuss the content of their information sheets.


Discuss the meaning of the statement: "Aging can be a cruel joke." Does this statement apply only to elderly Holocaust survivors or to all aged persons?

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