Artifacts as a Reflection of Family Stories in the Holocaust


The desire to touch something tangible that belonged to one’s family that has been lost only grows stronger when there is no grave one can visit. Touching an artifact seemingly enables a connection with a father, mother, siblings, and their memories. This is also true on a larger scale. The objects that remain from the Holocaust are among the most powerful means through which we can try to grasp the greatest tragedy to ever befall the Jewish people.  In this lesson, students (as a whole class activity or in groups) will view photos and read the accompanying stories of some of these artifacts, learn about the lives of the people who owned them, and develop a sense of appreciation for the familial bonds that anchored parents and their children during the days of terror. Following this, learners will discuss questions which naturally emerge, such as: What was the original function of the artifact, did this function change, and if so, how, what was the significance of giving or receiving this artifact, and many more.

The learner will:

  1. Understand the significance of family artifacts

  2. know of some of the artifacts that survived the Holocaust and the stories they tell

  3. be able to write about a particular artifact that they connected to and why

When you click on the Yad Vashem resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:

  1. An introduction that frames the lesson

  2. An introductory poem, testimony, and discussion prompts

  3. Photographs of artifacts and student handouts with background information 

  4. Summary that features a brief but poignant poem by a survivor

Computer, projector, personal computers for each student (optional), student handouts

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