Testimonies from the Past

The project “Testimonies from the Past – A Warning for the Present: Educating about the Holocaust through Oral History” was the first instance of cooperation between the Croatian Education and Development Network for the Evolution of Communication – HERMES and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). It was also the first instance of HERMES receiving support from the Zagreb US Embassy Small grants program. Endorsed by the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency (ETTA), the interest for the seminar was exceptionally high.

The core objective of the project was to introduce the USHMM’s Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive to Croatian elementary and high school teachers in order to facilitate the creation of innovative classroom lesson plans to be used in formal and informal Holocaust education. During the 2-day seminar held in Zagreb, Croatia, a USHMM expert presented the archive of oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses living in Croatia during or after the Holocaust. HERMES’ moderators facilitated the participation of teachers in the creation of lesson plans. In the 2020 teacher training seminar, altogether 5 new lesson plans have been created.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the utility of an online Holocaust oral history archive proved invaluable – as traditional schooling had transferred into the online domain as result of the pandemic. Therefore, in 2021, we wanted to build on the initial success by familiarizing more Croatian elementary and high school teachers with the USHMM Oral History Archive, but also invite their Bosnian- Herzegovinian and Serbian counterparts for professional collaborative exchange on the subject of teaching about the Holocaust. The 2021 Teacher Training seminar, also supported by the Zagreb US Embassy Small grants program, took place online and gathered 35 teachers who created 7 new lesson plans on the basis of testimonies from USHMM archive.

You can find the edited short excerpts from testimonies highlighted in the project below, along with their accompanying lesson plans. Note on language: The teachers who created the lesson plans come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. For this reason, the language of some lesson plans is mixed.

Beginning of the War



Testimony – Ivan Slade

Testimony – Erna Cipra

Testimony – Zorka Skiba

Testimony – Draginja Grujčić

Testimony – Tomo Lučić

Testimony – Mira Aršinov

Testimony – Ljubomir Zečević

Testimony – Milan Kolarac

Testimony – Branko Mohr