Introduction to Digital Edition


In 1987, the Center for the Study of the Child, in coordination with the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, published a unique guide for educators interested in teaching the Holocaust. Titled, Life Unworthy of Life: A Holocaust Curriculum, the guide represented a new approach to the study of the Holocaust, emphasizing not only the study of the perpetrators and the documentary evidence they produced, but also the voices and stories of survivors of the Holocaust. By including the voices of survivors, the curriculum informed students about the essence of the Holocaust: the loss of families, a multi-faceted culture, children, lives and lifestyles. To this end, the curriculum combined a textual element consisting of historical materials with a videotape component based on survivor testimonies and as such, remains one of the first and only of its kind to both historicize and personalize the history of the Holocaust. Because of this, and because of the carefully conceived pedagogical plans of the authors, which included step by step instructions to teachers, meticulous lesson plans and carefully chosen resource material, Life Unworthy of Life: A Holocaust Curriculum was highly praised by Holocaust scholars and made part of the National Diffusion Network, a US Department of Education funded project aimed at identifying and sharing exemplary educational practices and programs and as such, was identified as an effective teaching resource. Unfortunately, only a limited number of curricula were printed and are today no longer available. The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive has digitized this unique curriculum available via the World Wide Web in order to make it accessible to teachers in today’s classrooms.

The project addresses the need for quality, pedagogically sound Holocaust education materials that are both flexible in approach and easily accessible. By digitizing the curriculum and its component parts, (video lessons, student readings and tests) this project provides teachers with a tool that enables them to successfully approach and present this event in a way that makes it and its implications real and affecting for students.

This curriculum is offered freely to any educator who wishes to utilize it, and is meant to provide a cost-neutral resource for schools and educators with internet access. Although the curriculum contains 18 one-hour lessons, it is also structured to allow teachers to employ a shorter version of the unit involving as few as 4 selected lessons. (See “Introduction for Teachers”)


Although this online version is designed to match the original version as much as possible, changes in appearance and design were unavoidable. Rather than provide the student readings on a separate web page, we have incorporated them into the teacher’s text in the form of links to .pdf files. These files are downloadable and can be printed and handed out or e-mailed to students. In order to provide the most optimal viewing quality and download times for the video segments, the curriculum utilized the website and embedded the video into each lesson’s webpage. Clicking on the video file embedded in the webpage will redirect to the YouTube site, where you can enlarge the video. The nature of this project required that the original text be completely re-typed and then converted into .html files. While every effort was made to keep typos and other mistakes at a minimum, some may exist and we are happy to have you report them to us. Furthermore, any suggestions for making the online version easier to use will be greatly appreciated.


Finally, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of several people and organizations who helped make this online version of Life Unworthy of Life possible. The Holocaust Education Coalition of Detroit provided generous funding for the project which allowed us to purchase the necessary software for completing the project. The faculty, staff and student assistants of the Mardigian Library, especially Mike Kmiec, Julia Daniel Walkuski, Patrick Armatis, Chelsea Sparks, Heather Veliky, Ashley Ray, Ayah Mahfouz, Karisa Michalec and Monica Brady.


 Jamie L. Wraight

September 2010