Students Learn Most About Holocaust From Survivors' Stories

Poll: 38% of pupils said personal testimonies are most significant source of information on the Holocaust.

High school pupils who took seminars at the Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies in recent months said survivors' testimonies were the most significant source of information on the subject.

A survey held by the institute at Kibbutz Tel Itzhak ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday shows that 38 percent of the pupils named survivors' personal testimonies as the most significant source of information on the Holocaust. A fifth - 22 percent - said movies were the most significant source of information and 20 percent named the school trip to Poland.

Only 13 percent listed Holocaust museums as significant information sources and even fewer named plays, books or memorial ceremonies.

The survey encompassed 430 pupils in grades 10-12.

Massuah CEO Aya Ben-Naftali said: "As the Holocaust survivors' generation moves away from us, the more teenagers feel the personal encounter with a survivor is the main source of information about the Holocaust."

"The survivor's personal story enables the youngsters to deal with the complicated issues of the Jews' response patterns in the Holocaust," she said.

Motion pictures help the young viewers "simulate and feel they're coming close to the real thing," she said.

The survey indicates that the movie with the greatest influence on youngsters' perceptions of the Holocaust was "The Pianist" (36 percent), followed by "Schindler's List" (19 percent).

More than half - 55 percent - of the pupils said the main importance of the trip to Poland was "the possibility of identifying with the Jewish people's fate."

A study conducted recently by Dr. Arik Cohen of Bar-Ilan University of some 2,500 pupils found that some 99 percent of those traveling to Poland saw it as an effective method of studying the Holocaust. A large percentage of pupils who traveled to Poland said they felt more familiar with the subject of the Holocaust compared to those who did not make the trip.

About 60 percent of the pupils said their schools marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Massuah poll says.

However, 83 percent did not know the ceremony date marks the day before the Auschwitz liberation; 31 percent thought it was the date of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, while 30 percent could not answer the question.