Many students throughout the province will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with age-appropriate lessons about how, where, what and why the Holocaust happened, including survivors’ personal stories.
Every year on Jan. 27, Jewish communities around the globe observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day by holding vigils, discussions, film screenings and more.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Victims of Nazism included half of the world’s Jewish population, people who were Roma, disabled and LGBTQ2+, as well as political dissenters.
“While the horrors of the Holocaust happened more than 75 years ago, with recent and troubling anti-Semitic incidents, harassment and hate crimes, these lessons are as important today as they were then,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “It’s critical our kids understand the role indifference and apathy played in these atrocities, and how they can use their voices to speak out against injustices they encounter in their own lives.”
Teachers are encouraged to share a new video resource with students 14 and older. “Leo’s Journey – In My Father’s Words” recounts 15-year-old Leopold Lowy’s struggle to survive the Mengele twin experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Richard Lowy, Leopold’s son, brings this story to life with a word-for-word recital based on interviews recorded before his father’s death in 2002.
“Though heartbreaking, the horrific implications of my father's story is truly a gift,” said Lowy, who produced the video in Vancouver. “The burden is now all of ours. How we choose to incorporate this profound understanding into our lives is up to us.”
Rita Akselrod, a Holocaust survivor and human rights activist, said, “Although it’s sad that Richard should have to tell his father’s story, it has such an important message. I just want the students to listen and understand they can make the world a better place.”
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) offers age-appropriate school programs and resources designed for the B.C. curriculum, to teach youth about the Holocaust and challenge them to become committed global citizens, aware of discrimination, racism and genocide in today’s world. As Western Canada’s leading Holocaust teaching museum, the VHEC reaches more than 25,000 students and teachers annually in British Columbia and beyond.
Students in B.C. begin learning about the Holocaust in both history and social studies courses in Grade 6. They learn about other discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada and the world, with a focus on analyzing what happened in the past to prevent similar human rights abuses in the future. Students benefit from a new curriculum that weaves social responsibility throughout all grades to ensure every child learns respect for others.
Phil Levinson, president, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre –
“Engaging with eyewitness testimony is a uniquely powerful way to learn about the Holocaust and its lessons for present day. The story of our former VHEC board member and speaker, Leo Lowy, is a compelling entry point for teachers and students on this 75th anniversary.”
Teri Mooring, president, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation –
“With fewer survivors of the Holocaust still alive to tell their stories, it’s critical we pass on the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations to ensure it never happens again. These are difficult conversations, but education is the most powerful tool we have to combat hate.”
"Leo’s Journey – In My Father’s Words," a video and information (recommended for students in grades 8 to 12): https://leosjourney.ca
VHEC educational resources: https://www.vhec.org/educational-resources/