Poland Teachers’ Institute For Holocaust Studies Underway

Thanks to the efforts of several dedicated individuals and a unique partnership among the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida in Maitland, FL, Jagellonian University in Krakow, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, public school teachers in Poland have better resources for teaching about the Holocaust. Two “Summer School For Teachersâ€? projects – on in Krakow the first week in July, another going on right now in Warsaw – are offering them comprehensive historic information, classroom resources and pedagogical workshops provided by renowned Holocaust Scholars from the United States, Poland and Israel.

Project mission: The only way to ensure that the world will never see another Holocaust is to teach each generation about the devastating consequences of intolerance, and to make them aware of their personal responsibility to speak out against prejudice and persecution.

Public school teachers have a special obligation to help their students recognize the importance of tolerance in a pluralistic society. For this reason, many nations require that the history of the Holocaust be taught in all schools. Some also call for teacher education that provides adequate information, materials, and teaching strategies so that the lessons of the Holocaust are taught with accuracy and respect.
Of the nations that have not yet instituted comprehensive Holocaust Education, Poland is among the most crucial. The names of its cities are known forever as the names of death camps. The decimation of its Jewish population and the complicity of its citizens are, to this day, cause for deep shame. Anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi activity flourish there in plain view.

Project background: Tess Wise, a Survivor from Poland and founder of the Holocaust Memorial Center in Florida, has presented educational programs in Central Florida for over twenty years. Among the Center’s successes are traveling teaching trunks available free of charge to area schools, a weeklong 40-hour teacher training course, teacher forums on a variety of educational issues, a full-time onsite resource teacher who leads student tours of the museum and is available for community education, and a state-developed Holocaust curriculum with a mandate requiring all schools to teach about the Holocaust and its lessons on tolerance and pluralism.
Given the exceptional support available in Florida, and the great lack of similar opportunities in her native Poland, two years ago Mrs. Wise began investigating ways to use her resources and knowledge to help Polish teacher address past, present and future issues of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

Partnerships: Prime sponsor of the project is the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, Inc. Founded in 1984 the Center has twenty years experience in providing exemplary teacher training on Holocaust education.

On-site coordination of the project is provided by Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is also a partner, and will be providing eminent scholars to help lead the institute. The Galecian Museum in Krakow and the Jewish Heritage Foundation in Warsaw are also partners, contributing venues for field education during the week. The Ministry of Education in Poland is also a supporter of the program.
Nearly all of the funding for the project came from private donors in the United States.