A series of 5 lessons to secure students’ historical knowledge and understanding of the experiences of ‘The Boys’ during the Holocaust.  Each lesson lasts for approximately one hour and is aimed at students in Years 7 & 8. All of the lessons draw upon carefully selected images, extracts from the novel and testimony from ‘The Boys’.  These features encourage and facilitate student enquiry. The lessons are organised in chronological order. For students to fully understand how and why the Holocaust happened, and within this the experiences of ‘The Boys’, it is important that they have a secure understanding of chronological and geographical development of the Second World War. This understanding is secured through the historical ‘context cards’ that accompany each lesson. As the main characters in the novel, like many of ‘The Boys’, come from Poland, these materials focus upon events and experiences in Poland, though they also refer to the development and experience of the Holocaust across Europe.

An overall introduction:

It is important to be clear with students from the outset that the central character of Yossi, in the novel After the War, is a fictional character. Alongside his closest friends, Leo and Mordecai, he is a composite character whose experiences and memories are fictional representations of the real-life experiences and memories of a number of The Boys. Yossi’s experiences are included in each of the history lessons as extracts from the novel. Yossi’s experiences will be contextualised in each lesson through the use of images, testimony from The Boys and the wider historical context within which these experiences take place, the Holocaust and Second World War. In this way it is intended that these lessons will enable students to secure their knowledge and understanding of the experiences of those child Holocaust survivors who inspired the novel and upon whom Yossi’s character is based.

Lesson 1:

Enquiry question: What was life like for ‘The Boys’ before the war?

Lesson focus: Jewish life in Poland before the Second World War

Learn about:

  • The long history of Jewish people in Poland
  • The size and diversity of Poland’s pre-war Jewish population
  • Relations between Jews and non-Jews in Poland
  • Anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination

Lesson materials

Lesson 2:

Enquiry question: How were Jewish people in Poland affected by the outbreak of the Second World War?

Lesson focus: Ghettos and ghetto conditions

Learn about:

  • Nazi antisemitism
  • What ghettos were and why they were set up.
  • What conditions were like in the ghettos.
  • What difficulties and challenges ‘The Boys’ and their families faced following the invasion of Poland and the outbreak of the Second World War.

Lesson materials

Lesson 3:

Enquiry question: What was the Holocaust?

Lesson focus: What happened to the Jews of Europe during the Second World War?

Learn about:

  • When and where the mass killing of Jewish people began
  • The deportation of Poland’s Jews from ghettos to death camps
  • The use of Jewish prisoners as slave labour
  • The experiences of ‘The Boys’ during the Holocaust

Lesson materials

Lesson 4:

Enquiry question: How and why did the Holocaust end?

Lesson focus: The end of the Second World War

Learn about:

  • When and why the Holocaust ended
  • What the death marches were
  • What conditions were like on the death marches
  • When and where survivors were liberated

Lesson materials

Lesson 5:

Enquiry question: What happened to ‘The Boys’ after the Holocaust?

Lesson focus: After the war: Windermere

Learn about:

  • What was lost in the Holocaust
  • The experiences of ‘The Boys’ at Windermere
  • The impact that the experiences at Windermere had upon ‘The Boys’.

Lesson materials

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