Educators & Teachers

The Museum is proud to offer specially designed resources to assist educators in teaching about the complex history of the Holocaust. Stay tuned for updated information as we continue to develop resources, lesson plans and programs.

The THM is here to help

Whether you are an experienced teacher looking for a refresher or a teacher new to this subject, there is so much advice out there on how to teach about the Holocaust that it can seem overwhelming. Our Best Practices and Guidelines presents a synthesis of the most important points and helps you consider what is unique about teaching this topic in Canada.

Best Practices in Holocaust Education

THM's guidelines are based on internationally-recognized approaches to Holocaust education. The content is adapted from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s guidelines.

  • Rationale: Students will have a solid foundation from which to further explore the history and its lasting influence and they will be positioned to combat ignorance and misinformation.

  • For example, try not to oversimplify the choices made by perpetrators, rescuers, and bystanders, and make sure to include victim responses.


    Rationale: Students will recognize that many factors and events contributed to the Holocaust and often made decision making difficult and uncertain.

  • For example, the term “killing centre” is preferable to “extermination camp,” which conveys the idea that prisoners were like vermin that needed to be eradicated.


    Rationale: Students will learn to identify stereotypes, recognize perpetrator vocabulary, and avoid generalizations.

  • For example, include primary sources and help students to analyze who created them and why.


    Rationale: Students will consider evidence created by different people implicated in the Holocaust and learn to identify gaps, biases, and interpretations.

  • Rationale: Students will be positioned to understand the particularities of each genocide rather than ranking the suffering of different groups.

  • Rationale: Students will be sensitive to the complex situations of the past in which people had to make choices and decisions, learning to see patterns, recognize consequences, and identify the processes that can lead to genocide.

  • Rationale: Students will gain a perspective on the precedents and circumstances that contributed to the Holocaust and shaped how people responded.

  • Rationale: Students will understand that each statistic was a real person with a life before the Holocaust who is deserving of remembrance.

  • For example, don’t assign games or simulations, and only use graphic photos when pedagogically necessary.


    Rationale: Students will participate in learning opportunities that respect the dignity of the victims and the gravity of the topic.

What, why, and how we remember are ideas that ground our teaching and guide our choice of materials, so examining the complexity, value, and power of memory is a natural and age-appropriate precursor to the study of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Educators’ Consortium Prism, 2014

Tips for teaching the Holocaust in Canada

What is unique about teaching this topic in Canada? These five suggestions point you to the particular opportunities available for Canadian teachers and students.

  • You may be surprised to learn that Canada became home to 40,000 Holocaust survivors – one of the largest communities of survivors in the world. Canadian survivors have been involved in sharing their stories and shaping educational efforts in this country. These efforts include participating in projects to collect oral history. To date, more than 1,200 oral histories have been recorded. When including survivor voices in your lesson plans, choose voices from Canada. Students are more connected to what they are learning when they hear it from people who are fellow Canadians, perhaps even their neighbours. Furthermore, when Canadian survivors share their life stories with us they teach us about how they experienced the Holocaust and what it was like to immigrate to Canada and build new lives here. Their experiences as immigrants were not easy: they faced difficult periods of adjustment and often discrimination, while also dealing with the trauma of their wartime persecution and loss.

    Include a link to In Their Own Words exhibit or the Survivor Stories module.


    The Nazis carried out a second, concurrent genocide during the Holocaust. This was against the Roma and Sinti (“Gypsy” people). This event is often termed Samudaripen, meaning the murder of all, or collective murder. Another term you might encounter when reading about the Roma genocide is Porajmos, literally meaning “devouring.”


    Explore testimonies from Canadian Holocaust survivors on the Museum’s In Their Own Words online resource.

  • Across Canada education centres and museums provide local Holocaust education opportunities. These experiences cater to your students by following provincial curriculum guidelines, engaging with local survivors, and rooting the educational experiences in the particular place. Often these centres are at the forefront of experimenting with new forms of media and cutting-edge pedagogical experiences for students. The Toronto Holocaust Museum is a state-of-the-art facility where your students can access ground-breaking technology and innovative approaches to Holocaust education. Whenever possible, include trips to your local Holocaust centre to ground your teaching in a site and benefit from the expertise and innovation taking place around the country.


    Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre in Vancouver


    Montreal Holocaust Museum in Montreal


    Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax


    Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg


    Canadian War Museum in Ottawa


    Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre in Winnipeg


    Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship in Ottawa


    Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Toronto


    National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa

  • Unlike countries with a national curriculum, in Canada curricular requirements vary between provinces. It may surprise you to learn just how much it varies in terms of which grades mandate Holocaust education and what content about the Holocaust is required to be taught. Considering the direct references to Holocaust learning objectives in your provincial curriculum is an important element of your preparation for teaching, so you know what, if anything, your students have already learned in an educational setting, or so you can prepare them for what they will encounter later. Often, references to the Holocaust that appear in curriculum documents frame the content in a way that directly links it to Canada’s history.


  • Students may think the fact that the Holocaust happened a long time ago on a different continent means that it’s not relevant to them. One way that you can help students see the relevance is to integrate into your teaching key moments from Canada’s history that demonstrate the Canadian connection to the Holocaust. Some examples are the MS St Louis refugee ship that was refused entry in 1939; the internment of German-Jewish “enemy aliens” on Canadian soil; and the role of Canadian army in liberating parts of Europe, including some of the Nazi concentration camps.

  • When teaching about the Holocaust in Canada, it is important to be aware of where you are teaching and who you are teaching. The Holocaust did not happen in Canada, but genocide has happened here, and conversations about Residential Schools are becoming commonplace in many classrooms. This reality makes studying the Holocaust gain new significance as it develops students’ awareness of genocide as a feature of modern life that has happened many times and continues to occur. And as you get to know your students each year, awareness of their backgrounds also informs your teaching. Indigenous and Jewish students bring their family legacies with them to the classroom, and newcomers to Canada may bring firsthand experience with war and persecution. When choosing which cases of genocide to discuss in your classroom, make sure to give enough time to each case so that student discussions are well-grounded and respectful of the particularities of each situation.