Kristallnacht Commemorated and Taught in Schools with Political Cartoons

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The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) recently sponsored "Cartoonists Against the Holocaust: Art in the Service of Humanity" at Somers High School. The two-day program and exhibit featured rare political cartoons from 1930s and 1940s U.S. newspapers that tried to alert the American public about the persecution of Europe's Jews.

The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) recently sponsored "Cartoonists Against the Holocaust: Art in the Service of Humanity" at Somers High School. The two-day program and exhibit featured rare political cartoons from 1930s and 1940s U.S. newspapers that tried to alert the American public about the persecution of Europe's Jews.

More than 275 students attended the program to commemorate the anniversary of the Nazis' November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, which is widely regarded as the beginning of the Holocaust.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and the creator of the exhibit. In his presentation, he explained the history and impact of political cartoons and emphasized the courage of the cartoonists who used their art in an attempt to promote the rescue of Jewish refugees.

"Students usually learn about the Holocaust through textbooks and film strips," Dr. Medoff said. "This program offers a different and very engaging way for teenagers to understand the Nazi genocide and the world's response: by looking at those events through the eyes of the political cartoonists of that era."

Marlene Warshawski Yahalom, Ph.D., Director of Education for HHREC, said that this new way for students to learn about the Holocaust is very engaging. "It demonstrates the bravery of a handful of cartoonists who used their talents to bring attention to the atrocities overseas and the reaction to it at home," said Dr. Yahalom.

A student cartooning contest, sponsored by the Wyman Institute, seeks to encourage students to create their own 1940s-era editorial cartoons to try to alert the public about the Holocaust.

The entries will be judged by a panel that includes Pulitzer Prize winner Jules Feiffer, Gerry Gersten of MAD magazine, Mark Podwal, Joe Kubert of DC Comics, Adam Kubert of Marvel Comics, and Yaakov Kirschen of "Dry Bones."

The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center is located at 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase, New York 10577. For further information, please contact 914.696.0738, e-mail hhrec (at) bestweb.net, or visit http://www.holocausteducationctr.org.

About the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center:
The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center is an interfaith, not-for-profit organization serving Westchester, Fairfield and Putnam counties to encourage and enhance teaching and learning about the Holocaust and its human rights lessons for today. Its members encourage students to speak up and act against all forms of bigotry and prejudice.

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