Learning Tools for Abe’s Story

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Learning Tools for Abe’s Story

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Weencourage online learning about Abe’s Story.

This cross curricularprogram was put together by Rebecca Crumrine, Jennifer Burger, and Joseph Korn. Rebecca and Jennifer are both teachers at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School inAugusta, Georgia. It has been created to help teach and learn about the Holocaustthrough the story of my father. I hope you find it useful and get in touch with me (joeyk@csra.net) if youwould like to share the educational materials that are created by working withthis program on the Web. We may be able to help.

Abe’s Story: A Holocaust Memoir by Abram Korn


Abe’s Story: A Holocaust Memoir is the incredible story ofone man’s journey through the Holocaust. Abram Korn was only 16 years old whenHitler’s air force, the Luftwaffe, attacked his home town of Lipno, Poland, onthe first day of World War II, September 1, 1939. Abe survived the entire war asa Jewish prisoner, enduring the ghettos, the horrific concentration camps, andthe 150-mile Death March from Auschwitz in the middle of the bitterly cold Polishwinter. Astoundingly, Abe kept his sense of human dignity, helping others tosurvive while he helped himself. He always believed he could live one more day,and on April 11, 1945, when Buchenwald Concentration Camp was liberated, he wasfinally free.

Abe’s story continues with the rebuilding of his life with severalother survivors in post-war Germany, his marriage to Ellie Korn, and Abe’semigration to America in 1949. Joseph Korn continues the story in the Epilogue,telling of his mother’s delayed immigration, how his parents built a remarkablysuccessful business and proudly raised their family in the Jewish tradition. Inthe Afterward, Joseph tells how the original manuscript came to be written andalso tells of his own involvement in preparing Abe’s Story for publication. Joseph also tells a remarkable story of an American Liberator who grew to befriends with Abe and Ellie years later in America. Abe died in 1972, when Josephwas only 19 years old. Joseph has been speaking at schools and teaching aboutthe Holocaust for the past 15 years, and he knows how to get the studentsexcitedly involved. Abe’s Story is surprisingly inspiring and uplifting. Everyone who reads it seems, somehow, to apply it to their own lives today. Itinspires the reader to be all that he or she can be in this life. Reading Abe’sStory will change your life.


The purpose of this cross-curricular guide is to suggestactivities that would help use Abe’s Story more effectively in learning about theHolocaust. Participating in the suggested activities will also help the studentslearn more about the world they live in today and about the dangers of hate andprejudice in the world and in their lives. It will help the students to realizethat we all have the potential for good and evil in any circumstances; the choiceis ours to make. Language Arts

  1. Create an I Search that will describe the life of one person in yourfamily, just as Joseph Korn researched his father’s life. Use personalinterviews of the person and of people who know this person.
  2. If your familydoesn’t have a family tree, create one by interviewing members of your family,going as far back in your ancestry as possible. If your family does have afamily tree, make sure it is up-to-date and learn as much as you can about yourancestors.
  3. Write a news article based on one chapter in Abe’s Story. Remember to pull facts directly from the chapter to include in your article.
  4. In the Holocaust, the Nazis condemned people to death for no other reasonthan their religion, their beliefs, or their family history. Write an essay onwhat prejudices you see that exist in America in the 1990’s and how it affectspeople’s lives.
  5. Read and discuss a poem about the Holocaust. Then write aresponse to the poem or create a poem based on Abe’s Story or on the Holocaust. (Poems in supporting material)
  6. Compare and contrast Abe’s Story, a nonfictionaccount of the Holocaust, to a fictional account that you have read, such asNumber the Stars (Lois Lowry) or The Devil’s Arithmetic (Jane Yolen).
  7. Usingyour knowledge of life in a concentration camp, write a letter from aconcentration camp to a family member left in the ghettos, as Abe did while inCamp Hardt. (Use supporting material.)

Social Studies

  1. Compare a current event to the Holocaust, such as the current situationin the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzgovenia.
  2. Using pre- and post-World WarII maps, discuss the changes in country boundaries. (Maps in supporting material)
  3. Show the students Abe’s journey throughout the Holocaust using the map foundin the introduction of the book. Give students a copy of a map and let eachindividual plot his/her own map.
  4. Think about Abe’s experience of loss (hisdog, his friends, his family, his home, his family’s business, his rights as acitizen). Then, in small groups or individually, have students reflect uponlosses they have experienced in their own lives. Think about Abe’s ability tomove on and survive in the face of such loss.
  5. Compare and contrast theHolocaust to the struggle of other groups, such as Native Americans, AfricanAmericans, and Asian Americans.
  6. Discuss the systematic and intentional lossof identity and self-esteem that Hitler inflicted on the prisoners. How doesthis lead to the loss of the will to live?
  7. Define the word holocaust usingthe dictionary? Using the supporting material, define the Holocaust of World WarII and discuss how it fits the dictionary definition.


  1. Using the population size of your town or community, compute how many timesthe town or community would have to be multiplied to equal the number of innocentpeople who were murdered in the Holocaust (12 million) and the number who died incombat (? million).
  2. Most people are unable to grasp numbers as large as onemillion. Have students calculate how long it would take them to count to onemillion if they counted one number for each second. Inform them that about 12million innocent people were murdered during the Holocaust, and then ask them tocompute how long it would take to count to 12 million. Tell them to imagine thatone person is being murdered for each second they count.
  3. Using the estimatedpopulation of various ethnic and religious groups in the United States, calculatethe percentage of those groups that would be represented by the 6,000,000 Jewsthat were murdered in the Holocaust. (Use supporting material.)
  4. Compute thepercentage of the Jewish population of World War II Europe that perished in theHolocaust and then use this percentage to see how many members of the class thiswould represent.
  5. Using Abe’s description of the Death March, compute theaverage rate of speed they would have had to travel every day on foot to coverthe distance traveled in the specified time.
  6. Compute the number of days inthe war, from the day Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, to the dayGermany surrendered, May 8, 1945. How many people were killed outside of combateach day, on an average, if 12 million innocent people were murdered during theHolocaust.
  7. Using the map of Abe’s journey given to students in SocialStudies, figure out the distance, in miles and kilometers, between each locationin Abe’s journey.

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  1. In small groups, have students compile a list often things that they can do to keep themselves healthy. Using this list, havestudents examine the possibility of using their knowledge of these ten things tocreate an unhealthy environment. Explain to students that Hitler used hisknowledge of health to deprive prisoners of the essentials of healthy living,thus causing illness and death.
  2. Discuss different ways that Hitler couldcreate an environment that would promote death? Why would he do this when hecould have murdered people more easily and efficiently?
  3. What is frostbite? What sort of conditions are necessary to cause frostbite and what are its short-and long-term effects? What is gangrene and how does frostbite lead to gangrene? What are the possible short- and long-term effects of gangrene?
  4. Whatconditions create an atmosphere for lice infestation? Discuss the connectionbetween lice infestation and the spread of the disease known as typhus. (Usesupporting material.) Discuss how Hitler could purposefully create a typhusepidemic.
  5. Discuss the number of calories a body needs to sustain an activelifestyle. Have students keep a food journal for a day and calculate the numberof calories. Then compare this to the average calories consumed by a prisoner ina concentration camp. (Use supporting material.) Remember to discuss thedifferences between the amount of calories a student might burn in one day to theamount a prisoner might burn while forced to do hard, physical labor for overhalf of a day.
  6. Discuss the footnote on page 54 about how the prisoners weresubjected to conditions that caused dysentery. What other diseases could becaused in this manner?


  1. View photos of Europe and of concentration camps before,during, and after the war and write responses and impressions.
  2. Read a passagefrom Abe’s Story and illustrate the scene (draw, paint, sculpt, etc.).
  3. Illustrate an alternative book jacket for Abe’s Story .
  4. Draw a picture ofyour entire family. Show students the book jacket and explain that Abe was theonly survivor of the Holocaust in that picture. Then tell students that two outof every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the Holocaust and have themillustrate this ratio in their own drawings by shading or some other manner.
  5. Create a diorama of a