Children’s Genocide Diaries – Sierakowiak and Zlata’s Diaries

Jean Ruhl
St. Regis School
Kansas City, Missouri

Introduction
Through the ages, people have kept diaries as a record of the daily events in their lives. A diary allows the writer to express feelings and thoughts about personal life experiences. From the following lesson plan, students will explore two young diarists living more than 50 years apart, yet their lives are connected by their shared experiences of war.

This lesson is designed to enhance the student’s understanding of the diaries of Dawid Sierakowiak who lived in the Lodz ghetto in Poland during World War II and Zlata Filipovic, who lived during the Bosnian War in Sarajevo. The students will gain insight into the diarist’s state of mind, the time period the diary was written and have an understanding of the importance of diaries as primary documents. The duration of this lesson will vary but most likely it will take 2-4 class periods.

This lesson could be used as a conclusion activity for a unit on the Holocaust. It would be a good lesson in making connections between the Holocaust and other genocides.

Grade Level
7th-12th grade

Subject
Language Arts
Social Studies

Time Needed
2-4 class periods

Materials
Teacher Instructions
Excerpts from Dawid Sierakowiak’s Diary (available in the Echoes and Reflections Curriculum)**
Excerpts from Zlata’s Diary
Problem/Solution Worksheet
Discussion Questions

Pedagogical note from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education: We encourage all educators to be familiar with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Guidelines for Teaching the Holocaust. When teaching this unit, please remember the guideline which tells us to avoid comparisons of suffering and pain. This includes both individuals and groups.

**The Echoes and Reflections curriculum is available online. If you prefer to prepare your own handouts directly from the original diary this lesson plan utilizes the following entries:

Sept. 3, 1939
Sept. 6, 1939
Sept. 10, 1939
Sept. 18, 1939
Sept. 19, 1939
Sept. 24, 1939
Oct. 4, 1939
April 6, 1941
April 9, 1941
April 27, 1941
May 2, 1941
May 11, 1941
May 16, 1941
July 19, 1941
May 25, 1942
Sept. 5, 1942
April 4, 1943
April 15, 1943

This teaching unit was designed by a member of the Isak Federman Holocaust Teaching Cadre.

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