Elijah Moore and Ashley Young in front of Birkenau gates

For many students World War Two and the Holocaust seem as distant as the Middle Ages, rather than part of the fabric of their modern world. Yet, we know that learning this history is vital to understanding our world and combating the hatred and injustice within it. For this reason, The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Overland Park, KS partnered with the Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial Foundation in their efforts to give educators an opportunity to experience the authenticity of Holocaust spaces and the artifacts that comprise them. Pike Valley teacher Elijah Moore was one of only 31 educators selected for this nationwide fellowship.

After six months of preparation, Elijah embarked on a week-long study trip to Poland. The fellows met in Warsaw where they visited the former Warsaw Ghetto to see remnants of the ghetto wall, the Umschlagplatz (site of Jewish deportations to the death camps), the Jewish cemetery, and the ruins of the resistance headquarters at Mila 18. He also spent time in the Polin museum, which details centuries of Jewish life in Poland and the Jewish Historical Institute. Here, fellows saw artifacts and documents hidden by those living in the Warsaw ghetto. The group then traveled to Krakow where they visited the Jewish district and the former Jewish ghetto before continuing to Oswiecim, the town where the Nazi death camp Auschwitz was located. There they spent an intensive two days at the former site of Auschwitz I and Birkenau. They walked the grounds of both camps, visited the conservation labs, and participated in workshops led by the museum’s educational staff. 

This fellowship also provided participants the opportunity to connect with educators from across the country. Elijah reflected “This experience has given me new insights to share with my students and a renewed drive to show why we must never let campaigns of hatred surface and succeed again. At my side was the amazing group of educators that walked with me on this journey. In addition to the insights I have gained, I have also acquired a network of passionate, knowledgeable colleagues with which to collaborate and share educational strategies, lessons, and experiences.”

As the Holocaust passes from living memory into history, we must rely more than ever on quality education facilitated by talented teachers, such as Elijah. The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education is dedicated to supporting these educators with this essential work.