Seventy Years Since the Uprising
“If there were a school for study of the human spirit, the Uprising would be its main course.” – Antek Zuckerman, Partisan fighter/founder of the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Kibbutz
Seventy years have passed since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a revolt that in world history symbolizes resistance to evil forces, not only in desperate battle for survival, but also as an affirmation of the power of the human spirit.
The Study of the Human Spirit
The essence of the Ghetto Fighters’ House – consisting of a museum, a rare archive, and an educational center – is the study of the human spirit encouraging “Active Choice,” and the responsibility of each person to stand up to hatred and fight oppression based on religion, race, or ethnicity.
This House was built upon acts of kindness in the midst of chaos.
This House was built on demonstrations of faith when hope seemed lost.
This House was built on courage and dignity in the face of inevitable horrors.
This House was built on questions for which we continue to struggle for answers.
Can we teach humanism? Can the Uprising teach future generations that they are not powerless against tyranny? Can we dedicate a school to the study of democratic humanism, teaching that the human spirit can overcome, unite, survive and ultimately flourish?
Ghetto Fighters’ Museum created this House of Learning where the human spirit and the responsibility for its survival is an educational centerpiece. Ghetto Fighters’ Museum’s efforts to build a program for study and discourse about the meaning of the Holocaust, and the search for these answers, will continue for many years to come – resonating and transforming future generations. Partners are needed to build and strengthen this institution and create a place of study and development for proactive leaders of humanistic values.
Project Description: “Live in the name of the Uprising”
“We had [three] additional weapons: a great ideal, great willingness, great devotion. We viewed our entire lives as one great preparation for the Uprising; we viewed the uprising as its natural extension. We saw ourselves as people allowed to walk the earth…only if we live in the name of the Uprising.” – Antek Zuckerman
How do we convey these values to coming generations? How do we encourage commitment to these values in an age in which attention spans are short, gratification is immediate, and our 21st century culture has created great alienation and apathy?
Ghetto Fighters’ Museum’s “70 Years from the Uprising” program will use interactive technology and involve teachers, students and organizations worldwide in the program. Our “70 Years” program will bring life to archaic texts and artifacts to build a new model of Museum activity, one that goes beyond the exhibitions focused on the study of the Uprising, its heroes and leaders. The program will drive discussion and study that will grapple with the meaning of the Uprising in current times.
To address the issues and dilemmas in an impactful way, program leaders will create an activity for small groups that resembles a game, using the technology of smart, portable computer devices (tablets, Smart Phones, etc.) to access the rich collection of sources available in the Museum. The platform will be a special application for the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum, but we are convinced it will be adopted by other teaching museums. New technologies will shatter old patterns of learning, creating a “virtual Ghetto Fighters’ Museum” that will promote a discourse about morality and humanistic ideals worldwide.
In short, the “70 Years from the Uprising” program will use the most current technology to reach the heads and hearts of the new generation of educators and students who will “live in the name of the Uprising.”
Goals of the activity: The Game
- Turning young visitors into investigators on the trail of a person and/or issue, thereby creating their own the personal story of the Ghetto Fighters.
- Learning through activity/action, taking full advantage of the curiosity and creativity of young people.
- Grappling intellectually with the difficulties and complexities faced by the Ghetto Fighters.
- Understanding the choices of the Uprising leaders, and thereby the circumstances, considerations and the costs.
- Understanding the moral conflicts that confronted the fighters of the Uprising.
- Identifying similar forces that challenge humanism in today’s world.
- Creating their personal dialogue and project for change.
- Facebook platform for youth participants to dialogue with one another.
“The central event was not the Uprising in Warsaw or in the other ghettos. The central event…transpired in the heart of the people.” – Abba Kovner
The goal of the activity is to strengthen the connection between the visitor and the Ghetto Fighters’ experience, fostering learning that creates understanding and identification with Ghetto Fighters’ lives and the life and death dilemmas they faced. This learning promises to shake young people from their “comfort zones” and open their eyes to wonder of the human spirit and the meaning of a life based upon moral and humanistic values. These lessons are relevant for our own lives and time.
The full program of “70 Years to the Uprising”
The interactive game briefly described above is not the entire program of “70 Years from the Uprising,” but one of many innovative activities intended to arouse emotions in this special year and lay the groundwork for a renewed discussion in Israeli society about the Uprising and its meanings. We have created a full program composed of the following elements:
- Development of an interactive game for small groups of students in grades 9-12 based on a challenge/riddle about Uprising Museum exhibitions.
- Development of an in[gs1] -depth research activity for university students, student teachers, teachers, soldiers, and police officers. The activity presents a unique way to resolve moral dilemmas by profound engagement with the issues of the Uprising.
- Preparation of a curriculum and creation of a teaching kit for middle schools and high schools to convey moral issues that arise in the story of the Uprising. The four lessons of this teaching kit will give a comprehensive picture of the Uprising: (1) the pioneering youth movements upon the outbreak of World War II; (2) educational and public activities carried out by the youth movements in the ghettos; (3) exemplary young leaders in the ghetto undergrounds; and (4) the uprising in the ghettoes and Jewish self-defense – their meaning and repercussions.
- Two teacher training courses will be developed on the meaning of the Uprising. One will be given in the Museum and the other online. Each course is 56 hours.
- Ten study evenings spaced throughout the year on ten subjects related to the Uprising and its meaning. These will be open to educators and some will be developed jointly with other Holocaust institutes.
- A conference for leaders of educational youth movements in Israel. This will include lectures and discussion circles in which leaders in Israeli society will participate.
- Construction of a rotating exhibition to present the testimonies of fighters in the various ghetto undergrounds.
Integrating the project into the goals and activities of Ghetto Fighters’ House
The “70 Years from the Uprising” program will spearhead an effort to renew the Museum and its public image. The program will conduct a new discourse about the Holocaust, one that will use the story of the Uprising to instill values of responsibility and social solidarity among the descendants of Holocaust victims. The success of this project will significantly advance the work of the Museum and bring its activities broad public attention.
Contribution of the project to preserving the memory of the Holocaust among the younger generation
It will reach out to young people through new technology to foster leadership among them. The new education curricula and frequent conferences on the legacy of the Uprising will embed the memory of the Holocaust in unconventional ways, providing a familiar approach for youth who now integrate technology in both their educational and social activities.
The Claims Conference and the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz.
Senior staff for the project and their previous experience
Ron Cohen, Director, Educational Division and Educational Development – a history teacher by training, and a senior docent at the Museum for some 15 years.
Tzipi Tal, Director, Events Staff – years of experience as Director of the Education and Guide Center of the Museum.
Evelyn Akherman, Director, Museum Division – a history teacher by training, senior docent, and previous director of the Education and Guide Center.
We view the entire project of “70 Years from the Uprising” as a way to reach more diverse audiences through an exciting and friendly encounter with the Museum. The state-of-the-art technology together with the fascinating programs that are meaningful and relevant to our own lives will lead to productive cooperation with the school system, the army, and youth movements, as well as the general adult public for whom the story of the Uprising and the courage shown during the Holocaust is engraved in their souls.