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Poetry in Holocaust Education

Using Our Online Resources


How do we teach the Holocaust using interdisciplinary methods? How can poetry, art, film, and literature contribute to the study of this complex subject? In this video Jackie Metzger, of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, presents three poems by Primo Levi, Dan Pagis, and Haim Gouri, outlining possible uses in the classroom for ages 16 and above. The ideas, imagery, dilemmas and contemplation inherent in such poems allow for a deeper study of the subject.

Jackie Metzger is a staff member at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem.

  • Part 1: Poetry in Holocaust Education
  • Part 2: "Shema" - Primo Levi
  • Part 3: "Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car" - Dan Pagis
  • Part 4: "Heritage" - Haim Gouri
  • More

    Poem credits in order of appearance:
    - Primo Levi, "Shema", in Primo Levy, Collected Poems, Faber & Faber, p. 9.
    - Dan Pagis, "Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car" in Dan Pagis, The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis, translated by Stephen Mitchell (University of California Press, 1989).
    - Haim Gouri, "Heritage" in Hilda Schiff (Ed.), Holocaust Poetry (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995), p. 5. (courtesy of ACUM)

    Zinovii Tolkatchev (1903-1977)
    Taleskoten, 1944
    Gouache, charcoal and crayon on paper
    Collection of the Yad Vashem Art Museum, Jerusalem.
    Gift of Sigmund A. Rolat, New York, in memory of his parents, Henryk and Mania, who perished in the Holocaust.
    Cain and Abel - Josep Vergara.
    The Sacrifice of Isaac - Caravaggio.

    Illustrations - Liz Elsby, International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem.

    Film produced by Mikooka Productions -

    Archival footage:
    - Yad Vashem Photo Archive.
    - Yad Vashem Film Archive.
    - Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Every effort has been made to locate the copyright holders to obtain the appropriate permissions and apply the correct attributions. If you have any information that would help us in relation to copyright, please contact us at

Pedagogical Objectives

  • Orient the educator in teaching the Holocaust outside the confines of a history lesson, using interdisciplinary materials and teaching methods.
  • Broach the “larger questions” stemming from the Holocaust through the use of art, and specifically through poetry.
  • Explore the additional meaning and relevance conveyed through Holocaust art, in accordance with the educational philosophy.

Teaching aids