Investigating the Past: evidence from primary sources

Essential Question: How can you learn about a mass atrocity from primary sources?
Suggested length of time: 60-90 minutes
Suggested age levels: For Grades 10-12

Using the “Holocaust By Bullets” section of the online exhibition as a resource, explain what the Holocaust by Bullets was, what led up to it, how it was conducted, and the results.

Divide the class into small groups of about 3 or 4 students. Each group should research the mass shootings at Babyn Yar through primary sources, including testimonies from at least one survivor:

Suggested Survivors:

Leonard Spektor

David Chernyahovskiy

One perpetrator/collaborator, and one eyewitness . As a group, they should compare how each testimony describes the event and discuss how the individual’s role influenced their perspective and understanding of what happened. Ask students to consider the reliability of the source and the intended audience. The group should then discuss how primary sources inform historical knowledge and our current understanding of past events.

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