Volume:4, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2012

There is no future without the past (sharing Holocaust-related educational experience)
Babich, Elvira A. [about] , Koryakova, Anna A. [about] , Arkhipova, Victoria A. [about] , Babich, Elvira A. [about] , Koryakova, Anna A. [about] , Arkhipova, Victoria A. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: Holocaust education, Holocaust classes, extracurricular activities, school newspaper, cooperation with international Holocaust-related organizations.
SYNOPSIS: The authors represent the administration of one of the best secondary schools in Yekaterinburg and share their school experience in introducing their students to Holocaust and trying to develop in them such values as humanism and tolerance.


Yekaterinburg City Comprehensive School No.167 (Municipal Budget Educational Institution) is implementing the “School as a Tolerance Territory” project aimed at shaping such vital personality qualities as tolerance in present-day students. In our opinion, it is tolerance that enables us to prevent a recurrence of tragic events of World War II.

We have created our own model of developing tolerance in our students and we managed to fill in every component of the school system with these ideas and practices. We are talking about three main “building blocks” of any educational system: instruction, character formation, and personality development. The program successfully involves all participants of the educational process – students, teachers and parents, as well as various public institutions cooperating with our school. Since the start of the project, we have accumulated extensive experience of curricular and extracurricular activities related to tolerance-competence development and Holocaust education, some elements of which are presented in this paper.

As we prepare for and commemorate the Holocaust Memorial Day, the school holds special classes, lectures, debates, screenings of documentary and feature films followed by discussions, and extracurricular activities.

The “Firework” School Drama Society staged the “Six candles – six million lives” matinee and “The Holocaust Memorial Day” music and literary performance (directed by T.G. Kostyreva).

The school newspaper – “Isle 167” publishes articles about the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations held both in the school and the town. Among them are “Reports on the Holocaust Memorial Day in the Ural State University of Economics,” “Children from the abyss,” “Let us keep their faces in our memory,” “We must not be silent about the Holocaust,” “January 27th is the Holocaust Memorial Day,” students’ feedback on books and films such as “Children from the abyss,” “Kiselyov’s List,” “Tell us a fairy tale, Doctor” (the newspaper is edited by O.A. Usatova.). The issues of interethnic cultural education, tolerance and Holocaust are covered in special editions of the school newspaper with the full-text online access available at the school’s website  http://167.uralschool.ru/?category=33&class=rubric_articles_groups&id=350 .

On the whole, our activities related to issues of tolerance and Holocaust are presented online at http://167.uralschool.ru/?category=33&class=rubric_articles_groups&id=403, on the special page entitled “Tolerance.”

Our students and teachers participate in research projects, e.g., “Shaping tolerant views in Vasily Grossman’s legacy as a pattern to transform the world” (winner of the 8th International Contest “Lessons of Holocaust as a way to tolerance” in 2010), etc.

In 2012, we held a meeting in the local synagogue inviting Holocaust survivors and former prisoners of ghettos and concentration camps. In the Ural State University of Economics, there was an event for school and college students to commemorate the Holocaust Memorial Day.

Our teachers and students are frequent guests at the Menorah Jewish Center of Yekaterinburg City which hosts picture exhibitions, literary and music performances, lectures, workshops (where our teachers and students are active participants), and panel discussions. One of such panel discussions was entitled “Children’s fates during Holocaust.”

In June 2012, there was a regional workshop of the “Tolerance as a Way to Peace” city-based network project in Chelyabinsk. Participants from Yekaterinburg shared their school networking experience. Again, it was an initiative of our school.

In September 2012, we hosted a city workshop related to practical issues of moral education within the framework of the “Tolerance as a way to peace” project implemented by Yekaterinburg City Comprehensive School No.167. We had 106 attendees – teachers from educational institutions of Yekaterinburg. During the workshop, the teachers of our school were able to share their experience. The workshop included presentations held by city administrators, librarians, teachers and high-school students (A.A. Koryakova, L.A. Kayumova, V.A. Arkhipova, V. Pozdeeva, a tenth grader). The “Firework” School Drama Society  offered the “Living Memory” literary and music performance.

Apart from the presentations, the attendees also participated in a number of educational workshops for Grades 6 and 7 related to Holocaust entitled “Holocaust – the aborted childhood” (S.A. Boris, teacher of physics), “Two childhoods” (T.A. Polozova, teacher of history and social science), “Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe” (V.V. Pokrashinskaya, teacher of safe life basics). There were also extracurricular events aimed at shaping tolerance in middle and high school students: “Standing aside” (E.A. Filippova, teacher of World Arts and Culture), a lesson of after-class reading based on Vasily Grossman’s publications – “Lessons of Holocaust – Lessons of Morality” (M.E. Zorina, teacher of Russian language and literature), “The Righteous Among The Nations” audio magazine (V.O. Vozmilkina, teacher of Russian Language and Literature and E.A. Shipilova, teacher of history and social science), “Hard to remember but impossible to forget”

I.A. Vodyannykh, English teacher). The participants discussed the potential of cinematography in Holocaust-related events. There was an open session of the “Isle 167” school newspaper press center (O.A. Usatova, head of press center, teacher of Russian language and literature).

The participants commended the organization and high relevance of the workshop as well as a wide range of activities and high professionalism of our teachers.
The workshop “Holocaust (Shoah) and Anti-Semitism” held in October by the “Sokhnut” Jewish Agency allowed schoolteachers to share their experience in this area.
Our school has developed an extensive cooperation program with the “Memorial” Society of Yekaterinburg. In 2011, we hosted a mobile exposition entitled “The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman” held by Frassati Cultural Center (Italy) and European Cultural Foundation. The exposition took place along with history and literature classes devoted to Vasily Grossman’s legacy in literature. Our school hosted the Yekaterinburg City Conference “The known and the unknown writer Vasily Grossman.” Another mobile exposition devoted to “The Diary of Anne Frank” is planned for 2013.

Our teachers, who are actively working on the subject of Holocaust, have attended educational seminars and workshops in Belarus, at the Yad Vashem Institute in Israel. The school principal was an active participant of conferences in Moscow and Paris. Our teachers also took part in the conference “Lessons of Holocaust and Present-Day Russia” in St. Petersburg and Berlin.

Sverdlovsk Regional Interethnic Library regularly publishes educational materials of our teachers on the subject of Holocaust. Among them are works by V.A. Arkhipova, O.A. Usatova, and E.A. Babich.

The school’s experience of teaching about Holocaust has been summarized in the “Lessons of Holocaust as a way to tolerance” Teaching Guidelines published in 2011 with the assistance of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. This publication has become the winner of the Regional Contest “Lessons of Tolerance” as well as a laureate of the All-Russian Educational Literature Exhibition held in Moscow by the Russian Academy of Natural Science. The publication contains twenty papers of our teachers and students.

For many years, our teachers have been sharing their experience of teaching towards and about tolerance and providing extracurricular activities through a number of various city-level events like Pedagogical Readings. In addition, we participate in regional and international conferences such as “Research - to Education: Support of Innovative Activities and Professional Patriotism” and “An Educational System to Develop Creativity.”

In 2007, the Municipal Board of Education in collaboration with the Holocaust Center held Holocaust-related educational courses for teachers of history conducted by I.A. Altman, the Holocaust Fund Co-chair, and Boris Vaisman, a former concentration camp prisoner and currently an active member of “Lessons of Holocaust as a way to tolerance” project. Some time ago Boris Maftsir (Yad Vashem Institute, Israel), manager of Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project, visited our city. The “Children Born in Ghetto” project is the result of the meeting with Boris.

Concluding, we can only add that Yekaterinburg City Comprehensive School No.167 is a federal academic site of the “Innovative Networking of Active Schools in the Ural Region” within the “School as tolerance territory” project. We act as a city innovative networking site in implementing the international project “Tolerance as a way to peace” (as a part of the project established by the International School for Holocaust Studies).  In 2011, our school participated in the 15th Russian Education Forum “Innovations in Education” where we presented (in collaboration with the Ural Department of the Russian Academy of Education) the “School as tolerance territory” project and received the “Pearl of Russian Education” prize.

In the academic year of 2010-2011, our school took part in preparations of a documentary film about the life of present-day students. The film was set mainly in contrast to the infamous “School” series directed by Valeriya Gai Germanika. Our film was created to prove that the values of the Russian multinational society are not only declared as pedagogical guidelines but also perceived as real by our students. Local TV and radio have produced a series or programs based on interviews with our students about the values of tolerance and inadmissibility of attempts to neglect or reject the memory of Holocaust.

We hope that our school experience shared in this paper will be useful to any teacher who is interested in ways of developing humanistic individuals.


1 Babich, Elvira A. [In Russian: Эльвира Александровна Бабич], Principal; Koryakova, Anna A. [In Russian: Анна Александровна Корякова], Vice Principal; Arkhipova, Victoria A., [In Russian: Виктория Александровна Архипова], School Library Head, City Comprehensive School No.167 (Municipal Budget Educational Institution), Yekaterinburg.

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