Resource for teachers

The Way We Lived: Exploring Jewish life and culture

This resource provides essential context for study of the Holocaust.

It highlights the diversity of Jewish life and culture before the Second World War and explores roots of antisemitism.

The two films in this resource, The Way We Lived and Roots of Antisemitism, were supported by funding from the Rothschild Foundation Europe.

Free teacher CPD and lesson plans are available from the Centre for Holocaust Education, UCL Institute of Education.

  • Introduction to Jewish Life in Europe before the Second World War

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    In the early twentieth century, approximately nine million Jewish people lived across Europe, from Britain in the West to the Soviet Union in the East. This extract, from an IWM film called The Way We Lived, shows the diversity of Jewish life before the Second World War. The photograph is of the actress and dancer, Ida Rubinstein.

  • Who we were

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    In this section of The Way We Lived several Jewish people describe the variety of life and culture while they were growing up before the Second World War. The photograph is of the artist, Roman Halter, (on the left) as a young boy with members of his family.

  • What we believed in

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    In this extract from The Way We Lived we find out more about the different ways of being Jewish. The photograph is of Lili Pohlmann (wearing the bow in her hair) with her family before the Second World War.

  • Why did people hate us?

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    In this section of The Way We Lived, Jewish people recall how they were subjected to antisemitism as children before the Second World War. The photograph is of Ezra Jurmann (on the left), a Holocaust survivor, and his brother.

  • Looking to the future

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    In spite of hard times in the early 1930s, the rise of Nazism and antisemitism in their own countries, most Jewish people believed that these problems would eventually go away. This image from the film The Way We Lived is of a group of young Jews dancing at a public event before the Second World War.

  • Exploring roots of Antisemitism

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    This film, called Roots of Antisemitism, is a complementary film to The Way We Lived for those who wish to explore the issue of antisemitism in more depth. It considers some of the origins of the myths and lies about Jewish people.

  • Ruth Foster

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    Mayer Bomsztyk
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    In this IWM sound clip, Ruth Foster describes how her non-Jewish school friends in Lingen, Germany, treated her after Hitler came to power. This photograph shows Ruth Foster, a German Jew, with her Jewish and non-Jewish classmates before the Second World War.