MY DEAR BOY: A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation
Adventurers Against Their Will: Extraordinary World War II Stories of Survival, Escape, and Connection, Unlike Any Other

My Dear Boy: A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation

Adventurers Against Their Will – Extraordinary World War II Stories of Survival,
Escape, and Connection – Unlike Any Others


Click Below for Free Lesson Plans:

“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.” —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

“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.” —Kimberly Klett, English and Holocaust Studies Teacher at Dobson High School, Mesa, AZ Echoes & Reflections Trainer, USHMM Museum Teacher Fellow (’03)

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 using lesson plans that accompany Schirm’s nonfiction books. Developed by expert teachers and teacher facilitators and trainers within the field of Holocaust education, the lesson plans use WWII letter excerpts and current web links. They highlight topics about refugees, forcibly displaced persons, dangers of persecution, and displacement. The lessons remind of the importance of the protection of values and rights that ensure justice for all.

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 him 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:

Joanie Holzer Schirm www.joanieschirm.com welcomes emails to joanie.schirm@gmail.com . 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.



Adventurers Against Their Will

2015 Recommended Reading for Grades 9-12 by the Florida Department of Education


2013 Global EBook Award Winner : Best Biography and Book Trailer


DOWNLOAD BELOW:   Teacher’s Guide for

Adventurers Against Their Will: Extraordinary World War II Stories of Survival, Escape, and
Connection – Unlike Any Others

A nonfiction book well-suited for the Social Studies or Language Arts teacher, or a collaboration of both – Grades 9-12
or above.

For information about materials available for the classroom, contact: joanie@joanieschirm.com


Free Ebook with Lesson Plan
(PowerPoint for Download)

Lesson Plan for Teachers (PowerPoint for Download)

Lesson Plans with Education Standards – Ready for PDF Download

Lesson Plans
Outline – At a Glance – Without Education Standards

Lesson Plans
Outline – At a Glance – With Education Standards

to Teacher’s Guide – from Author Joanie Holzer Schirm

Lesson Plan Package

For Audio in Lesson 5, see below for direct link :

Holzer 3 min escape story interview clip

For Individual Lesson Plans in PDF – download:

                Lesson Plan 1 –
Setting the Stage

                Lesson Plan 2 –
Historical Context

                Lesson Plan 3 –

                Lesson Plan 4 –
Plight of Refugees

                Lesson Plan 5 –

Additional Lesson 5 Materials:

Holzer 8 min escape interview clip

Holzer 3 min escape story interview clip

                Lesson Plan 6 – Human Rights

                Lesson Plan 7 –
Performance Task


Lesson Plans in German by the International Tracing Service (ITS) – PDF download in The
German language:


“Adventurers Against Their Will is a brilliant and compelling account of men and women caught in the
turbulence of war…Joanie Schirm has made a fresh and vital contribution to our understanding of World War II’s impact on
the lives of people in Central Europe.” –Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

“Adventurers Against Their Will is a powerful wartime story revolving around true historical events…An
emotionally powerful book for anyone interested in the vanished universe of early twentieth-century Central Europe and
the war that destroyed it.” –Robert Gerwarth, author of Hitler’s Hangman: The Life and Death of Reinhard

Author Joanie Schirm

Top 100 – Writer’s Digest 80th Annual Inspirational Writing Winners

Speaking Engagements: Author Joanie Schirm is a sought after public speaker, most recently presenting the many
lessons learned from revelations that came after the discovery of the “ Holzer Collection “ – 400 WWII letters by 78
Czech correspondents reaching her father, Dr. Oswald “Valdik” Holzer, in four continents during the war.   This primary
source collection, with letters originating in wartime Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Great Britain, France,
Palestine, Ecuador, China, and the United States, lies at the heart of Joanie’s series of non-fiction books.


Upon request at joanie@joanieschirm.com,  Joanie Holzer Schirm is available to speak
about her books.  She has presented at schools, teacher conferences, libraries and museums along with many book

 September 4, 2014, Prague, Czech Republic  – In conjunction with Czech-language
book launch for Adventurers Against Their Will, Joanie Holzer Schirm presented a
two hour lecture to high-school age, English-speaking students at Gymnazium Spitalska.


2014, Yom Hashoah Presentation, (jpg)

Scottsdale, Arizona, March 2014:  Carolyn & Herb Nathan 2014
Educators’ Conference Keynote Presentation: 

Scottsdale, Arizona, March 2014

February 8, 2014 Prague Post article:


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