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Historical Voices

Memories from the Jewish Holocaust

Based on two poems by LINDA NEMEC FOSTER (Michigan Poet)


Students should be able to:

  • Describe one of the poet’s perspective about the Jewish Holocaust
  • Distinguish the sources of knowledge the poet uses for her version of the Holocaust
  • Compare and or contrast the poet’s version of the Holocaust with that of another writer
  • Identify a contemporary problem that has its origins in WWII or the Holocaust

(since this would work best with student research, you might wish to ask the students to inquire from their parents, one or two days prior to the lesson, about the origins of their first and last names.)

Activity 1

Tell students that this unit will cover two or more lessons and will involve them in finding out more information, doing library research, on some aspects of the Jewish holocaust that interest them and are relevant to the topic. Tell them that the main idea of the topic is to expose the students to the various perspectives present in the writing of history. Thus this unit will use on-line literature (poetry) to explore personal experience in historical events.

Activity 2

Tell the students that the poet they are going to listen to uses narrative and story-telling in her poetry, and one example of this is the history of her maiden name, Nemec. Before they listen to the poetry, they will play a name game in groups of three.

Activity 3

In groups of three (or four), tell the students to share their findings with each other on the origins of their first and last names. One person in the group will be responsible for presenting the information to the class, and the class will grade the presentation on agreed criteria. (You can establish your own criteria with input from the students, or see lesson plan on Jim Daniels for suggestions). Let students work in groups for 3-5 minutes, then present their discussions

Activity 4

Tell the students that they are now going to listen to the poetry reading.

Tell them that they will do research on Joseph Mengele; the non-aggression pact in 1939; Stalin; Hitler; Auschwitz, and other things they find interesting mentioned in the poem. They should therefore pay specifics attention to the words, terms and stories used by the poet.

The URL: "

Activity 5

Have a whole class discussion on the stories they could gather from the poet. What is the story behind her name Nemec? What does she mean by the question: “Who can argue with the dead?

Poem 1. “After the War Purple flowers spilling from the windows”
Poem 2. “Mengele’s Butterflies”

Activity 6

Give the students their group assignments and a timeline for their research.


Michigan Curriculum Frameworks, SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT STANDARDS

Historical Perspective

Content Standard 3: All students will reconstruct the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and creating narratives from evidence. (Analyzing and Interpreting the Past)

Middle school

Analyze interpretations of major events selected from African, Asian, Canadian, European and Latin American history to reveal the perspectives of the authors.

Show that historical knowledge is tentative and subject to change by describing interpretations of the past that have been revised when new information was uncovered.

High School

Challenge arguments of historical inevitability by formulating examples of how different choices could have led to different consequences.

Select contemporary problems in the world and compose historical narratives that explain their antecedent

More information on Academic Standards for different content areas and different States can be found from the sites below:

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado, is a site that provides K-12 academic curriculum content standards.

Achieve is a site that contains the academic state standards for over 40 states. These state standards are from Achieve's National Standards Clearinghouse and have been provided courtesy of Achieve, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts and Washington, DC.