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Research and write about the Holocaust with author Liz Kessler (13+)

Complete writing and research tasks by Liz Kessler.jpg

This year marks 76 years since World War Two ended. On 27 January we come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. On this day we remember the millions of people who were killed and whose lives have been changed by the Holocaust.

About the book

When The World Was Ours is a novel by best-selling author Liz Kessler and inspired by the true story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied Europe. This powerful and poignant book shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times.

Writing activity

Imagine that you are part of a group of people who have suddenly become outcasts. Laws are being passed that make your daily life extremely hard.

In Leo’s case, being Jewish suddenly meant that he was no longer allowed to do things that his friends could do. What could it be about you that has singled you out for harsh treatment? Perhaps everyone with blue eyes or curly hair or anyone under six foot tall, or everyone whose name begins with ‘S’.

Imagine something about you now means you are treated differently to other people. Write a letter to your best friend telling them about what is happening.

  • What are you no longer allowed to do?
  • Is there a list of laws you must now follow?
  • How are the laws being put into effect?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • How are other people responding to you?
  • Where do you fear it might all lead and what – if anything – can you do about it?

Research activity

Between 1933 and 1945 the Nazis established many anti-Jewish laws. These laws were introduced slowly to begin with but became more and more severe and frightening over the years, ultimately leading to what was known as ‘The Final Solution’ – Hitler’s plan to murder all Jews.

Many rules were put in place, much like Leo’s list in When The World Was Ours. Can you find examples of these rules? Then pick two or three of them and look more deeply into these. Try to find some examples of them being put into practice, look into the effect they had on Jewish people’s lives. See if you can find any examples of real people who were affected by these rules.

You could create a document or presentation on your research, you could write about the lives of people who were affected or you could create an information booklet on what you have found out through your research.

Want to learn more about the Holocaust?

Read two exclusive extracts from When The World Was Ours, by Liz Kessler