Hana’s Suitcase

Study Guide

Welcome to YPT’s new study guide format! As you scroll through the guide you will find the usual sections included in all our guides: curriculum connections, director and designer’s notes, discussion questions, units of study and more. You will also be able to click on templates, worksheets and graphic organizers. If you wish to create your own lesson plan from the study guide copy, we have created a lesson plan template for your use. We hope you will find this guide to be a useful resource. Should you have any questions or feedback or have inquiries about the use of this guide (which is copyright protected), please feel free to contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at kgilodo@youngpeoplestheatre.ca.

This Study Guide was written by Nancy Guertin and Aida Jordão with contributions from Belarie Zatzman and her students from “Theatre and the Holocaust”, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University C. Adelstein, M. Jones, D. Katz, R. Lefort, L. Macdonald, J. Marcus, A. Millo, J. Moneta, D. Nearing, B. O’Brian, J. Paikin, A. Roy, I. Shomrony, G. Shpilt, L. Steinberg, M. Woodland.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Curriculum:

  • The Arts (Drama, Visual Art)
  • Language (Writing, Reading)
  • Social Studies (Cultures and Traditions)
  • History (Holocaust Education)
  • Geography

Character Education Connections:

  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Perseverance
  • Empathy

DIRECTOR’S NOTE

What drew me to Hana’s Suitcase and made me want to stage a play version is the wonder that Hana dreamed of being a teacher and, even though she perished at the hands of the Nazis, her story sixty years later is teaching children. That is remarkable; as remarkable as the curiosity of the children of Tokyo’s Holocaust Education Resource Centre about a girl they could never meet, whose suitcase had come into their possession. I think our play adaptation emphasizes the learning that took place among the Japanese children. In their search for Hana Brady, the children build both an understanding of her story and of the larger story within which Hana and her family were swept up. The children also attach themselves emotionally to Hana’s story and it is this aspect of the play that I feel is most important. We want children to know about the Holocaust because we want them to grow up to be the kind of people who would reject any hint of such a thing happening again. How do we do this? The horrors in every Holocaust fact are certainly enough to shock any young or old person but does shock turn into caring? When children make an emotional connection to a story, and especially a person, they can begin to truly care about outcomes and responsibilities and justice and peace-making. It is only people who care who can take action to stop holocausts. I think children side very easily with fairness and with peace. I would like to think it is in the nature of children to do so. What I hope Hana’s Suitcase helps teach them is the need to side with peace and justice when it is hard to do so: when it is unpopular or dangerous or isolating to do so. A strong, often sad, but inspiring story like that of Hana and George Brady and the Small Wings of Tokyo’s Holocaust Education Resource Centre is, I hope, a great way to teach children, as Fumiko Ishioka has said, “to make peace with their own hands”.

Allen MacInnis

PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTE

I had not yet finished reading Hana’s Suitcase when my mind began to spin with the possibilities of turning a beautiful story into a powerful play. As I read certain passages I pictured them on stage and knew I could use all the tools theatre has to offer: sets, costumes, music, slides, masks, even silence. A well-timed pause can speak volumes and tell us more about a character or situation than any amount of dialogue.

From the very start, I knew bringing Hana’s Suitcase to life on stage would present certain challenges, and many rewards. How far into the darkness of the Holocaust do you go, knowing young children will be watching the play? How do you condense layered lives into ninety minutes on stage? How much of the book do you preserve, and what gets left behind?

Process is as important as production when creating a play, especially an adaptation. That process includes working with colleagues ― a director, a dramaturge ― who offer feedback and insights as the play takes shape from draft to draft to draft. A world of its own emerges, a world with its own rules and rituals: the past and present are braided but never blend. Akira and Maiko imagine Hana’s story as it unfolds but cannot affect it; unable to change the past, they unearth their potential to shape the future.

The play is punctuated with references to nameless Figures, ghost-like characters dressed in colourless clothing and masks that reveal no emotions. The Figures are anonymous and have been stripped of details to reflect the casualties of war: victims are denied their identity as perpetrators lose their humanity.

And so a play about the Holocaust ends on a positive note: the last image of the play is of a Japanese girl pretending she is a Jew in Czechoslovakia. It is a small but hopeful gesture that reminds us of the power of theatre to scatter seeds, seeds that all of us ― on stage and off ― have to believe will take root.

The world of the play is rooted in a time when a scalding hatred flourished. Chasms lined with prejudice and ignorance still divide and diminish us. That Hana’s Suitcase continues to strike a chord some ten years after it was first staged is a reminder that this moving story about the essential need for tolerance is both timeless and timely.

Emil Sher

DESIGNER’S NOTE

I had a chance to hear the original documentary by Karen Levine that was broadcast on the CBC radio a few years ago. I was captivated by the persistent energy of the Japanese children who wanted to learn the story of a little girl, one of many children who tragically perished in the Holocaust during WWII . Karen Levine subsequently wrote a book based on her original radio documentary. When I was approached by YPT to design the set and costumes for the play based on the book, I felt a sense of tremendous responsibility to be trusted as a designer, and a member of the creative team, to give the narrative a new life on stage. The most important part of this story is the connection of the children in contemporary Japan to a small girl who died a tragic death in Auschwitz. It seems to connect every child who is interested in this story with all the children who perished in the tragedy of the Holocaust. Several design meetings with director Allen MacInnis clarified the direction of the design. There are two main locations to consider: the contemporary location of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre in the first act, and the thirties’ and early forties’ world of Hana’s childhood in the small town near Prague and in Theresienstadt. We decided that some of the existing elements of the theatre’s architecture (YPT is located in an old industrial brick building) could be useful to create a physical framework for the play. I designed two towers on the left and right side of the stage to create a proscenium frame that complemented the existing architecture of the theatre with its brick walls and rough industrial detailing.

The brown brick and austere quality of the two towers and of the theatre walls represent the military complex of the houses in Theresienstadt. The design for the centre stage, however, brings the lightness and magic of childhood memories and of the youthful energy of Japanese children. The whiteness of the centre stage is connected to a modernity of Japanese interiors, and later to the winter landscapes that we see in the second act. The second level of a simple bridge creates an additional place for some of the characters to appear and disappear. White lines in the upper part of the stage represent the barbed wires of the ghettos and concentration camps with water and tear drops attached to the lines. Several disconnected/deconstructed paper surfaces inhabit the sky of the centre space in Act One, merging together in Act Two to become a projection surface for many photographic images. Costumes are carefully designed to follow many references in existing photographs of the Brady family and other characters. There are several characters/figures that create a dramatic background for numerous scenes. We designed them to wear masks that emphasize both the dramatic impact of the moment and the universal character of those figures. It is important for me as a designer that the environment I create on stage helps to tell the story that we are set up to tell, and that actors and their connection with the audience is ultimately the most important part of the production.

Teresa Przybylski

SYNOPSIS

It is March, 2000. A child’s suitcase arrives from Auschwitz for an exhibit at the tiny Children’s Holocaust Education Resource Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Spurred on by Maiko and Akira, children at the Centre, Fumiko Ishioka, curator and teacher, begins to search for more information about the life of Hana Brady. Hana’s name, birthdate and designation (Waisenkind or orphan), painted on the side of the suitcase, are the only clues. The relentless search by Fumiko, leads her across Europe and North America until she uncovers the fate of Hana and the remarkable survival of Hana’s only brother, George, who lives in Toronto. Fumiko brings the painful story of Hana to Maiko and Akira. They start a children’s club, the Small Wings, to remember the children of the Holocaust. The second act tells the story of Hana and her family. Hana’s childhood in the Czech town of Nove Mesto is shattered when her mother and father are taken prisoner by the Nazis. Hana and George are protected by a Christian uncle, but are eventually taken to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt. Hana is separated from George and the two children have radically different fates at the hands of the Nazis.

GLOSSARY

The words in the Glossary appear in blue throughout the study guide.

Buchta: The Czech word for donut.
Ghetto: An area where people are crowded in conditions of poverty.
Juden: The German word for Jew.
Juden Eintreit:
Verboten: The German phrase for “Jews are forbidden entrance”.
the Holocaust: The mass extermination of 6 million Jews in WWII .
Kinderheim: The German word for the homes where the children lived and attended school.
Kristallnacht: The German phrase for “The Night of Broken Glass”, a terrible night in Germany in 1938 when Jews were terrorized. Businesses and synagogues had windows smashed and fires set.
kumbal: The Czech word for an attic hideaway that some prisoners were able to build for privacy.
refugees: People fleeing a country for political reasons.
Smelina: A board game, like Monopoly, that was invented in the ghetto.
Verboten: The German word for forbidden.
Waisenkind: The German word for orphan.
Vedem: The magazine written by the boys of L417, where George Brady and Kurt Kotouc lived.
Zyklon B: The gas used to kill Jews at Auschwitz.

BACKGROUND: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Czechoslovakia and the Protectorate of
Bohemia and Moravia during World War II

In the period leading up to 1938, Czechoslovakia was an independent democracy. The Munich Pact in September 1938 changed that. Hitler began to threaten a European war if the Sudetenland, which was a region of Czechoslovakia, was not ceded to Germany. This border region adjacent to Germany had a high population of ethnic German individuals. It was annexed to Germany as a result of the Munich Pact. Refugees began pouring into Czechoslovakia from the Sudetenland. On March 15, 1939, German troops marched in and declared the central region of Czechoslovakia the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The eastern region, Slovakia, became an independent territory cooperative with the German state. The Nazis immediately began to impose restrictions on Jews, and the Nuremberg Laws were implemented here on June 21, 1939. At this time, 90,000 Jews lived in Bohemia and Moravia. By the end of the war, 88,000 had been deported, most of them to Theresienstadt. Most perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Nuremberg Laws

The persecution of Jews was a central keystone of Nazi ideology. Starting in 1933, the Nazis began implementing laws specifically targeted to restrict the civil rights of Jewish individuals. These were racist laws designed to “purify” the “Aryan” nation of Jewish blood. The laws removed most political rights from German Jews, and prohibited them from marrying Reich (German) citizens. Under the NurembergLaws, a Jew was defined as an individual who had Jewish grandparents. A person with only one Jewish grandparent could be branded as a target. There was an elaborate classification system identifying the percentage of Jewish blood for individuals of mixed parentage. They did not have to define themselves as Jews or be active in the Jewish faith.

History

In November 1941, the Nazis created a Jewish ghetto out of an isolated 18th century fortress town near Prague. Theresienstadt (also known by its Czech name, Terezin) was different from the other ghettos. Along with less harsh living conditions, there was also a degree of self-government for prisoners, though they were still absolutely dependent on the Nazis’ arbitrary decisions. At Theresienstadt, the Nazis tolerated a cultural life for Jews. There were orchestras, concerts, theatre, lectures, a library; even religious life was not officially banned. Many well-known people were sent to Theresienstadt, people whose fates might be followed by the outside world. The Nazis created a smoke screen of deception, making it look like Theresienstadt was a “model Jewish settlement.” In 1943, the Nazis made Theresienstadt into a showplace for their propaganda. The Nazis were aware that news of the extermination and labour camps was beginning to leak to the outside world. They set up art studios and had prisoners design posters that showed images of the ghetto as a productive Jewish community.

Read more…

BIOGRAPHIES

George Brady

George is Hana’s brother and the only member of the Brady family to survive World War II . He miraculously survived Auschwitz and the Death Marches and emigrated to Canada in 1951. He now lives in Toronto where he ran a successful plumbing business. He, along with Kurt Kotouc, was responsible for the publication of Vedem, We Are Children Just the Same. He has four children, three sons and a daughter, Lara Hana.
(Brady family website)

Ludmila Chladkova

Ludmila Chladkova has been working at Terezin Memorial for more than 30 years. First she worked as historian and documentarist. In 1993, she established the Department of Education and became its head. Together with her colleagues she prepares education programs about the Terezin Ghetto. She has published many articles and books about the Jews of Terezin. (Terezin Memorial)

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis was the art teacher in the camp. She dedicated herself to running a sophisticated art curriculum with her training from the Bauhaus school. She used art as therapy for the often traumatized children. Friedl was a famous artist when she arrived at Theresienstadt. She perished in Auschwitz in October, 1944. Friedl lived in Kinderheim L410: Hana’s Heim. (The life and art of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis)

Fumiko Ishioka

Fumiko is the Executive Director of the Holocaust Education Centre in Tokyo, Japan. In 1999, she was hired to run the centre and to create children’s programs about the Holocaust. It was her idea to seek a child’s suitcase for her exhibit, and her perseverance that brought together the threads of Hana’s life story.
(Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre)

Kurt Kotouc

Kurt Kotouc was a bunkmate of George Brady’s for two years in Kinderheim L417. While there, he was the assistant editor of the celebrated boys’ magazine, Vedem (In the Lead). He lived in Prague until his death in 2008. He was very active in preserving the memories of Theresienstadt victims, including publishing a collection of articles and stories from the boys’ journals in a book titled: Vedem, We Are Children Just the Same.

The Suitcase

Shortly after the publication of the book, Lara Hana Brady discovered that the suitcase was a replica of the original suitcase. Hana’s original suitcase was destroyed in a 1984 fire caused by arson, likely a result of neo-Nazism. Fortunately, the Auschwitz Museum recreated the suitcase which led to Fumiko’s discovery and the subsequent story.

TIMELINE

timeline timeline

Japan in World War II

It is particularly significant that Japanese children are so eager to learn the story of Hana and other Jewish children who suffered a tragic demise at the hands of the Nazis. Japan was allied with Germany in World War II and has its own history of war crimes and the annihilation of thousands of Korean and Chinese people. For decades, Japan did not encourage education about the Holocaust. The story of the extermination of six million Jews during the Second World War was not always taught to Japanese schoolchildren. The Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre, founded in 1999, contributes to a new understanding of the Holocaust. “It is a slow and complicated process,” Fumiko Ishioka says. “Hana’s story is a gift for us and we were able to make one step ahead to encourage children to open up their eyes to see the world and also to help them realize it’s important to learn from the past.”

PRE-SHOW ACTIVITIES

Locations in the Play

Auschwitz: The infamous death camp where most Theresienstadt Jews died.

Czech Republic: Formerly a part of Czechoslovakia, where Hana lived. During WWII it was named The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Iglau: A Gestapo detention centre in Moravia where Karel Brady was sent.

Nove Mesto: The town in Moravia where the Brady family lived.

Prague: The largest city in the Protectorate during WWII . Also the location of the Jewish Museum where the Terezin Children’s art collection is now kept.

Ravensbrück: The camp in Germany to which Marketa Brady was deported.

Terezin: The Czech name for the town that became the concentration camp, Theresienstadt.

Trebic: A transit camp in Moravia, near Nove Mesto. Hana and George spend Hana’s
eleventh birthday here.

Tokyo: The location of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre.

Toronto: Where George Brady lives now.

Restrictions

Restricted rights of Jews in Czechoslovakia and in the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, 1939-1941. Commencing in 1939, the Nazis imposed about 60 restrictions on Jews living in the Protectorate.

Here is a sample of some of those restrictions. Post the restrictions in front of the class. Read them
aloud to your class.

  1. As you are reading, ask each child to select one restriction that would be the most difficult for them. Discuss with the class.
  2. Some of the restrictions may seem unusual. Discuss the implications of these restrictions. Why would they restrict the breeding of pigeons, for example?
  3. The restrictions fall into a number of broad categories: access to food, access to money, freedom of movement, access to information; intimidation and public humiliation. With your students, sort the restrictions into the different categories. Can they think of others?

Read more for a full list of restrictions.

Visual Art Activities

Use found materials available at home or in your classroom: paper from the recycle bin, old magazines, fabric, etc. Create a collage on a topic connected to being a child in Friedl’s art class:

  • students’ ideas on what camp life was like
  • what they would miss from home
  • daily events

Remind students that materials were scarce and that they will have only one piece of base paper upon which they can work.

Students may work individually, in pairs, or in small groups.

Name Art

The only clue to Hana Brady was a suitcase with her name on it. The only other piece of information was the word Waisenkind beside her name, with her birthdate, May 16, 1931.

Create a work of art using the student’s name as a component of the piece. Make use of paper, collage elements, paint, brushes, pencils, scissors, etc.

When she was ordered to Theresienstadt in December, 1942, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis deliberately chose to bring art supplies and all kinds of paper in her suitcase, including scrap paper, cardboard, and plain wrapping paper. Other paper and drawing supplies were smuggled into the ghetto at great risk by others.

  1. Ask students to create a work of art inspired by their own first or last name.
  2. Have them brainstorm about the type of media they will employ. They may choose to execute a drawing or create a work that combines painting and collage.
  3. The only requirement of the piece is that students incorporate their names in some way.
  4. Discuss the finished works of art with the class.

DRAMA EXERCISES

Wishes

Hana Brady’s brother, George, helped Hana name her frustrations and place them in a bottle to be
buried in their garden. From this idea, we suggest an exercise where Hana’s wishes are expressed.

  1. Divide into groups of two and take the roles of Hana and George.
  2. In-role, with paper and a pen, record some of the things you think Hana might have wished for. After the improv, discuss what we can learn from Hana and what Hana would want for the future.
  3. Record some things that Hana might wish for if she were alive today, both for herself and for the children of today’s world.
  4. Have each student select the wish that is most important to him or her. Have the students create stars and write their wishes on them. These can be displayed for the children to look at each day, to be reminded of Hana and the importance of a peaceful world. The stars can take shape in whatever form the students choose. For younger children, you may want to create a template or use the Star of David as a reminder of the star that Hana was forced to wear.

Hot-Seating

  1. Have each student pick a character from the play and write a series of questions that they would ask that character.
  2. In pairs, students will take on the role of the character that their partner has selected and interview each other, in role.
  3. Some of the main characters are: Hana, George, Fumiko, Akira, Maiko, Karel and Marketa.

Improvisation

Create an improvisation to explore why Maria stopped playing with Hana:

  • How did Hana feel about it?
  • How do you think Maria felt about it?.
  • What would you do if you were in Maria’s position?
  • What would have happened if Hana and Maria had met after the war?

Tableau

tableau. A group of silent, motionless figures used to represent a scene, theme, or abstract idea (e.g., peace, joy), or an important moment in a narrative. Tableau may be presented as stand-alone images to communicate one specific message or may be used to achieve particular effects in a longer drama work. Important features of a tableau include character, space, gesture, facial expression, and level. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/
curriculum/secondary/
arts910curr2010.pdf

Fumiko asks the Small Wings to draw what Hana might have seen during her stay at Theresienstadt in order to help them understand what her experience was like.

  • Divide students into groups of three or four and ask them to create visual tableau inspired by images of what Hana might have seen throughout her life. Tell them to create five visual images using all group members for five stages throughout Hana’s life. Date them from her time in Czechoslovakia and allow them to end whenever they choose.

Questions:
To the groups

  • How did the group decide which images to convey?
  • How did it feel to visualize what Hana saw?

To the class

  • How did it feel to see a visual representation of Hana’s life?
  • Which images do you remember?
  • What can we do with these images now that we have seen them?

Resistance

Contrary to some popular views of the Holocaust, those persecuted by the Nazis often did not go quietly to their graves. For some, art was a form of resistance. By drawing, painting, putting on plays, or making music, they resisted the Nazis’ attempts to take away their humanity and dignity. Other people practised prayer and religious observance as a form of spiritual resistance. Many also took part in armed resistance. Ask students to conduct further research into the various resistance movements in order to gain a greater understanding of the different ways in which Jews and others challenged Nazi oppression.

Problems and Solutions

This is a variation of an exercise from Augusto Boal’s methodology. It is designed to show students the problems they face in the world around them and how to find alternatives and tactics to solve them.

Ask students the following question:

What is hate?
One by one, ask the students to answer this question by creating tableaux using their own and other students’ bodies. They can shape, mold and change as many people as they need to execute their vision. They should do this in front of the whole class for everyone to see. For example, one student could stand over another student miming a ‘knife’ to the back of the other student. Once everyone has had a turn, ask the first person to recreate their tableau. Ask the students who are watching to literally reshape the person’s tableau by reorganizing the bodies on stage in order to answer the following questions.

What was hate to Hana?
For example, the student miming the ‘knife’ could put the ‘knife’ to the other student’s forearm, symbolizing the tattooing of numbers in concentration camps. Does anyone have an alternative or solution to this problem? Once someone raises their hand, ask them to once again reorganize the bodies on stage to show their alternative or solution. For instance, the student who was once carving the tattoos could turn their ‘knife’ into a paint brush and ‘paint’ the other student a picture.

At the end of the exercise, all of the problems should be tackled and each student should have attempted to solve at least one problem. Discuss the following:

Note
The solution cannot be as simple as NOT doing what they had originally planned to do. They must invent creative solutions for their problems.

Questions:

  • What did it feel like to solve such complicated problems?
  • Do you think it is possible to solve everything?
  • What can you do to combat hate in your lives? In society?
  • How can we implement these solutions to solve the problem of hate?

LANGUAGE ARTS EXERCISES

Spatial Relationships

When Friedl is teaching Hana to draw, she says:

“Think of space. The space that isn’t here. The space you want and need. Space to run around in. Space to jump through. Space where your imagination can run wild.”

Questions:

  • What does space mean to you?
  • Think of some of your favourite spaces to be. Make a list of those spaces. What do you love about them and what you do there?
  • What do you think space meant to those on the cattle cars to Auschwitz? To Hana?
  • Is it possible to express yourself without space?
  • How do you think the concept of space changed throughout the Holocaust?
  • How can we create space where there is none?

Storytelling

In Hana’s Suitcase, Fumiko gets in touch with Hana’s brother, who in turn tells Hana’s story. We discover Hana through the eyes of her brother.

  • In groups of two, tell each other a story of an event that made an impact in your life (it can be funny, unusual, sad) for two minutes each.
  • Present the other person’s story to the larger group.

Questions:

  • How did it feel to be represented by someone else?
  • Did they tell your story well?
  • Did they leave anything out?

Underground Exercise

Teaching, learning, producing and performing went on in ghettos and concentration camps “despite the war, despite the drab, cramped surroundings, despite everything…” All kinds of classes – like the ones taught by Friedl to Hana – were secretly organized in Theresienstadt. The magazine, Vedem, was produced and distributed in Terezin, too. Research the underground cultural activities that were practiced in the ghettos and camps. What does this say about the human spirit?

Suitcase Exercises: Objects and Artifacts

Fumiko and the Small Wings made a deep connection with Hana even though they knew very little about her. The play Hana’s Suitcase underlines the importance of making connections with someone that you know nothing about. The Small Wings, using only Hana’s suitcase, a few of her drawings, and later, some photographs, helped young people in Japan and around the world, to witness Hana’s story and to be deeply moved by it. Those few objects assisted us in building this bridge to Hana.

  • Ask students to think of an object that is very important to them. This could be a favourite doll or toy, a special gift someone has given them, a family heirloom, or any other object that means a lot to them. The students should then write a story or poem about this object and its significance to them, allowing them to tell the story of their lives as represented by the object they have selected.
  • Variation: choose one object which is significant in your life. Imagine that the object can talk. What would the object say about you?

Make sure that the students do not include their name on their work. When they are finished, hang all of the pages around the classroom. Allow time for the students to look at all the other students’ work and select one of the stories or poems that speaks to them. Divide the students into groups of four or five to discuss the works that they chose. The discussion can include these questions:

  • Why did you pick this story/poem?
  • What does it make you think about?
  • What do you think the person that wrote this is like?
  • What questions do you have about that person and the object they wrote about?

After the exercise is complete, do reveal which person wrote about which objects. Later you might ask:

  • What objects would you want to be preserved when you are no longer around? Why?
  • What do these objects say about you, your family, or your community?

Note

  • Ask students to look at the Hana’s Suitcase website (www.hanassuitcase.ca).
  • Have them click on “gallery” at the bottom of the page, and then select the different eras (Before WWII, During WWII, After WWII). Ask them to select a photograph or an artifact and write a brief report on what they notice about the object and what they think of purpose and meaning.Vedem (In the Lead) was a Czech language “magazine” that existed from 1942 to 1944 in Theresienstadt. It was hand-produced by a group of boys, aged twelve to fifteen, who lived in Barracks L417, or Home One, led by editor-in-chief Petr Ginz. The magazine was written, edited, and illustrated entirely by these young boys. Altogether, some 800 pages of Vedem survived the war. The content of Vedem included poems, essays, jokes, dialogues, literary reviews, stories, and drawings.

Clues

Sometimes there is no one to tell the stories of those victimized in the Holocaust. There are only objects or clues. You have to figure out a person’s life by the objects in their suitcase, as in the play Hana’s Suitcase. You feel how Fumiko, Maiko, and Akira feel.

  1. One person is chosen to leave the room and will return in role as an investigator.
  2. Select the name of a character from the play, or build a completely fictional character.
  3. Have four people sit on chairs to represent four ‘suitcases’. Brainstorm the story of the character and then give each ‘suitcase’ three objects or three hints to the story of their life. For example, “Jane Doe grew up in Montreal” — so one of the objects in one of the four suitcases would be a Montreal hockey jersey. “Jane Doe’s favourite class was gym” — so one of the objects might be a baseball glove.
  4. After each suitcase has been given three objects that go along with the story line of the character, the investigator will be allowed to come back into the room.
  5. S/he can walk up to the first suitcase out of four and say. “What do we have here?” and the suitcase would respond, “A suitcase of clues…” Explain what is in the suitcase.
  6. The investigator then gathers up all the clues and forms the story of “Jane Doe”. S/he tells the story and then the class tells their story and they compare the two versions.

Memories

Pretend you are going on a trip by yourself for a year. Fill your suitcase with things that remind you of:

  • your mom, your dad, brothers and sisters
  • the things you will miss most about home (e.g. foods, toys and pets.)
  • favourite smells
  1. In groups of two, make a list of ten things you would put in the suitcase to remind you of the three categories, keeping in mind that your suitcase isn’t much bigger than your schoolbag.
  2. After making your lists, on your own, brainstorm fifteen different things you believe are true that no one can change your mind about. For example, “I believe that rainy days are meant for playing Snakes and Ladders.” Start recording your fifteen beliefs this way: I believe….
  3. After making your list of beliefs, do the same thing with the title, “Things I Will Miss”. For example, “I will miss walking my dog Spencer in the forest behind my house.” Make a list of fifteen things you will miss beginning with: I will miss….

Sharing:
Now as a group, share some of the things you’ve written down. Some things to consider as you talk about what you’ve done:

  • do you think Hana would have shared some of the same beliefs you do, considering her age?
  • do you think she would have enjoyed some of the same things you enjoy?
  • did you find that you shared things in common with the people in your group?
  • Question Sheet for Students and Parents

RESOURCES

Brady Family Story
The official Brady Family website with family photos, documents and a 1938 home movie.

CBC documentary.
Listen to the broadcast.

Actual Places in the Play

Terezin Memorial

Jewish Museum in Prague
Home of the Children’s Art Collection of Terezin.

Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre

Town of Nove Mesto, Moravia

View the town square where the Brady family lived at #13 Vratislav Square.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Holocaust Encyclopedia, allowing you to do a search on any WWII topic.

For Teachers

Personal Histories of survivors
(Prescreen for students. Use with caution.)

Photo archives (Prescreen for students. Use with caution.)

Film and Video

Interactive maps, including major invasions of war, location of camps, etc.

Art & Culture of Theresienstadt

The life and art of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

Children’s Performances at Theresienstadt

Theresienstadt Cultural Life

Other Sites

Auschwitz Memorial(Not recommended for elementary students. Use with caution. )

Holocaust Centre of Toronto

Terezin Art

Children’s Drawings from the Terezin Ghetto 1942-44

I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942–1944. By Hana Volavkova (Editor)

Other Books

Chladkova, Ludmila. The Terezin Ghetto, Pamatnik Terezin, 2005.

Frank, Otto, Editor. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Doubleday, 1995.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars, Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin, Holiday House, 2000.