Analyzing Propaganda and Teaching Media Literacy: The Holocaust as a Case Study

After getting into Tampa late Wednesday, our first AASL23 session was Thursday morning with the Anti-Defamation League. The session was Analyzing Propaganda and Teaching Media Literacy: The Holocaust as a Case Study and presented by Kim Klett. Klett is representing the company Echoes and Reflections: Teaching the Holocaust Inspiring the Classroom. It is a joint partnership with ADL, USC Shoah foundation, and Yad Vashem.

The session focused on the Holocaust as a case study but the organization does cover genocide and other topics available under teaching resources.

In the brief time we had in the session, Klett highlighted some great primary sources that are used in classrooms across the country. Notably, she discussed the camp and ghetto, Terezin/Theresienstadt, the model settlement. The camp was used as a tool for propaganda in 1944 after the Red Cross demanded to see what was happening there. The camp was advertised as a retirement community, which it was not, and this is what the Nazis transformed it into on the eve of the Red Cross visit. As a result, there are pictures and videos that present the camp as being a luxury town. In the classroom, as part of a lesson, children are asked to describe what these primary sources are accomplishing. This is a great lesson in propaganda and the way images are constructed to serve a purpose. Without context, children would gain a totally different understanding of history.

After the session, I looked into the Echoes and Reflection web site. It hosts a great collection of primary and secondary sources along with freely accessible lesson plans, professional development, student podcasts, timeline of the Holocaust, and Students’ Toughest Questions.

In this day and age our students need lessons in media literacy to understand both the past, present, and our future. I don’t know about other schools, but our eighth graders read Elie Wiesel’s Night and study the Holocaust. I will definitely be sharing these resources with my school and include these resources in the library.

Hannah Pohl, MLIS (she/her/hers)
Upper School Librarian

Author: Hannah Pohl

Categories: AASL National Conference

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2 replies

  1. Thank you for highlighting this important resource during a time when media literacy is needed more than ever.

  2. This was an amazing session to attend. Thank you for writing about it and the importance of understanding propaganda and the need for more lessons about media literacy and bias in the media. These are lessons that are profoundly important in today’s world, and I hope that more people read this article, learn from it, and look up the company Echoes and Reflections to help with planning lessons on these topics.

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