Holocaust Memorial Day Resources

20 Jan 2021 in Using Film to Teach...

3 mins
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

One of the most important calendar days of the year falls on 27 January, a date which asks us to reflect and consider on one of the most tragic periods in world history when millions of Jewish people were killed en masse by the Nazi regime of Germany. Despite the extreme sorrow brought forth by The Holocaust, historians and artists have committed themselves to preserving personal stories that emerged during this time and turning them into lessons of perseverance and hope. 

This page links to a range of materials built by Into Film that contribute towards teaching the Holocaust in schools. Such a difficult and complex subject can often become clearer through the lens of cinema and we hope that this page, which caters towards secondary students of all ages, will be a useful tool for educators around the country.

A useful start for anyone wanting to learn or teach about the Holocaust is to take a look at our carefully curated film list, containing a number of films for secondary students and beyond. Spotlighting all forms of cinema from documentaries to award-winning classics and even to comedies, this list of both universal and personal stories encompasses the various emotions and lessons we can take away from the tragedies of our past.

As well as this, we are very happy to present a new article written by Rachel Century, the Head of Research for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT). Below, she discusses the history of this crucial day of remembrance, the importance of film in conveying the impact of genocide and the many ways that you and your students can get involved.

Film Guides

Our film guides are specifically written to utilise alongside screenings at film clubs, in classrooms or on a one to one basis in order to promote discussion and learning through cinema. The film guides below all relate to specific age groups in the classroom and work well in both an online or home learning environment.

Schindler's List

One of the most famous historical films of all time, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List was not only critically acclaimed but also a huge hit at the global box office. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the story of a German businessman who risks everything to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish men and women is as enthralling and impactful as ever, truly highlighting both the sincere struggle and triumph through adversity that many experienced in Germany at the time. Our film guide touches upon some of the more complex elements of the film as well as examining some other figures who could be considered the heroes of World War Two.

Schindler's List can be ordered by Into Film members through our DVD service or streaming options can be found via FindAnyFilm.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

One of the best Holocaust-related films for younger audiences (aged 11+) to learn from, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is not only an excellent entry point into examining the historical and social impact of such a massive tragedy but also smartly positions the unfolding nature of war through the eyes of children, often a running theme when it comes to stories about the Holocaust. The film itself charts the relationship of two boys on opposing sides of the fence, quite literally, as the German son of a Nazi commanding officer befriends a boy being held prisoner in a nearby concentration camp.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas can be ordered by Into Film members through our DVD service or streaming options can be found via FindAnyFilm.

The Book Thief

A young girl's passion for books helps her and the people she loves find a respite from the horrors of Nazi Germany in this moving drama that again looks at the regime from a child's viewpoint. Originally illiterate when she was sent to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann in the late 1930s, spirited nine-year-old Liesel quickly learns to read thanks to the kindly couple's encouragement. When the Hubermanns take in a Jewish refugee and Liesel starts sharing stories with the increasingly imperiled man, she begins to learn a valuable lesson. Narrated by Death himself yet surprisingly life-affirming, The Book Thief is based on a best-selling Young Adult novel.

The Book Thief can be ordered by Into Film members through our DVD service or streaming options can be found via FindAnyFilm.

If you want to explore this topic even further there are also two film guides for older audiences on our website; exquisite Polish drama Ida and the dedicated adaptation of one fo the most famous wartime pieces of writing in history The Diary of Anne Frank.

This Article is part of: Using Film to Teach...

A series of articles that highlight how the medium of film can be used to teach a wide variety of subjects and themes.

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