By Nancy Patz

                     Humanizing the Victims of the Holocaust

This lesson is designed to turn statistics into people. When we refer to the millions of
people murdered during the Holocaust, the numbers tend to overshadow the essential life
of each individual and what that life entailed. As in Daniel’s Story at the museum, we
attempt to give meaning to the life of an individual to place emphasis on the humanity of
each person in symbolic form.

Using literature in the study of the Holocaust is an excellent medium in eliciting both
cognitive and affective learning. We want students to not only learn the facts but also to
learn to feel; to generate empathy when faced with the facts of human suffering.

What is our objective here?

After learning about the railway transport of Jews from their homes in various parts of
Europe, students will be able to appreciate the humanity of those who were torn from
their homes to face hardship and death at the hands of the Nazis.

Students will read the small book Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat? by Nancy
Patz. The following are some sample teacher questions to direct student learning. Point
out sections of the poem that address the following questions:

   1. Why do you think the museum visitor needs to know about the woman who wore
      the hat?
   2. What does the hat represent to the museum visitor?
   3. How does she attempt to make this woman whom she has never met, and never
      will meet a real person?
   4. Which image or statement stands out the most, or makes you see the Holocaust
      with “different eyes”?
   5. What has this poem taught you about the people who were murdered during the

Quote from Nancy Patz:

About the photograph of a woman in a hat with a young girl in a white collar (lower left)
on the page Whom did she love?:

“That’s my mother. And that’s me…I now have a better understanding of WHY I
was struck so powerfully by the hat I saw in the museum. My mother used to wear
hats like that. Most women did. But I know my mother did; I remember that she
did. My father used to gently tip down the brim of her hat—and he thought she
looked terrific.

My mother died when she was 41- (when I was 17).

I didn’t make any connection between the Amsterdam hat and my mother until I
was well into working on the book. But it seems clear to me now that some
unconscious memory made me respond to that hat as deeply as I did. I think the loss
of 6 million—and the loss of one—fused in a profound way for me—and made it
necessary for me to do this book.

Perhaps the only way we can take in the death of 6 million is through the grief we
feel at the death of one we love. Or perhaps, as in the case of the woman who wore
the hat, getting to know and care about one person who may help us to remember
and honor all the others…”

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