Partnering with Echoes & Reflections for a More Peaceful World

Partnering with Echoes & Reflections for a More Peaceful World


In these times of considerable uncertainty, one thing is sure. We all recognize the importance of education when seeking to end prejudice and discrimination while inspiring a more caring and respectful world.


With that shared goal in mind, please consider a free partnership with Echoes & Reflections and nonfiction author Joanie Schirm and your school or organization to deliver an online professional development program on the experiences of refugees during WWII and the Holocaust and forced displacement today. For more information and to schedule a free program, please contact Jesse Tannetta,


Echoes & Reflections utilizes unparalleled expertise and resources from three world leaders in Holocaust education: ADL, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem. Echoes & Reflections is a leading Holocaust education program for middle and high school teachers. They deliver comprehensive digital resources and professional development programs that provide educators with opportunities to discover powerful resources for teaching about the Holocaust, to practice educational approaches and effective strategies, and to collaborate with colleagues.


For the past two decades, Joanie Holzer Schirm has served as the curator of the Holzer Collection. It was described in 2008 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives Director Henry Mayer as “one of the most extensive personal World War II letter collections seen in years.” The assemblage, saved by her Czech Jewish father, “Valdik” Holzer, after the Nazis forcibly displaced him, causing Holzer to traverse across five continents, transformed his daughter into an archivist. She became a global researcher, an amateur genealogist, award-winning nonfiction author, and sought after speaker.


Schirm’s first book, Adventurers Against Their Will, earned a cover testimonial from former U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, won the Global eBook Award for Best Biography, and is referenced in the Essentials of Holocaust Education edited by Samuel Totten and Stephen Feinberg. Her second book, My  Dear Boy, (Potomac Books, 2019), is a Foreword Reviews Indies Book of the Year Award Autobiography/Memoir finalist.


The over four hundred letters by seventy-eight writers at the heart of the Holzer Collection join with personal diaries, documents, hundreds of old photographs, art, and vintage film, providing primary sources that bring the period to life. Schirm recognizes the importance of sharing the primary sources as individual narratives. For her book readers, educators, and students, the letters deliver personalized experiences that echo the injustices and unrest of today.

To create lesson plans, Schirm engaged two United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellows, who also are Echoes & Reflections facilitators. The two lesson plans stand-alone or may accompany her nonfiction books for more in-depth study.



In the Echoes & Reflections professional development program, Connecting the Past with Today: Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust, a facilitator models resources and classroom activities that focus on the history of Jewish refugees during the 1930s and 1940s. Educators learn to connect those lessons of intolerance, inaction, and indifference to how students understand today’s refugee and human rights crisis. The story of Valdik Holzer in My Dear Boy is a valuable resource when teaching about refugees during the Holocaust. For use in classrooms, the lesson plans incorporate compelling letter excerpts from her father and his refugee friends and family, enhanced with relevant modern-day web links on the topic.


Echoes & Reflections is able to partner with Joanie Schirm and your schools or organization to deliver an online professional development program on the experiences of refugees during the Holocaust and today. For more information and to schedule a free program, please contact Jesse Tannetta,


Joanie Holzer Schirm welcomes emails to . In addition to her work as a writer, speaker, and citizen of the world, Schirm serves on the Leadership Steering Committee for the creation of a new Holocaust museum and education center in downtown Orlando, FL, U.S.A.


Use of a theatrical play, My Dear Girl, written by award-winning playwright John Mark Jernigan for the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida is available after required use permission for reenactment


Teacher comments:


Jennifer L. Goss, M.A., N.B.C.T

Social Studies Teacher at Staunton High School (V.A.)

Echoes & Reflections Facilitator

U.S.H.M.M. Teacher Fellow ’10:


“Using the resources associated with My Dear Boy and Adventurers Against Their Will helped to further humanize the story of the Holocaust with my students. I greatly appreciated how well it tied into the existing resources I use with my students, such as Echoes & Reflections. The stories and letters complimented many of the testimonies I had already used in class, most of which are now part of the study guide created for the resources. My students especially appreciated the “normalcy” of the exchanges. One letter to Valdik speaks of the palm trees of Southern California, a student asked me – well, how did he know about them? That sparked a great discussion! It was also valuable to show students the primary mode of communication during this time period, which is so different than what we have today.”




Kimberly Klett

English and Holocaust Studies Teacher at Dobson High School, Mesa, AZ

Echoes & Reflections Trainer

USHMM Museum Teacher Fellow (’03):


“I use the packet of selected letters from Adventurers Against Their Will with students alongside the U.S.H.M.M. activity “Why Didn’t They Just Leave?”  Students look at the requirements to leave Nazi Germany and the requirements to get into the U.S. at the time.  Then, they read the letters in the packet and see how Valdik and his friends dealt with this in their emigrations.  By the end of the activity, students no longer ask why the Jews didn’t just leave because they see how difficult it was to do so, and see the outcomes for those who are able to.  We also utilize visual history testimonies from Echoes & Reflections, such as Esther Clifford, allowing students to hear the voices of survivors who tried to get out of Germany. After learning more about Valdik’s story, students look at letters from his parents, from My Dear Boy, and discuss the few choices available to those who were unable to escape.  Students are able to experience the power of the written word and of letter writing, and really feel they get to know the “characters” they are reading from.”







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