Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

John Raible

Date of this Version


Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professor John Raible. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2022

Copyright © 2022 Beth S. Dotan


Holocaust educators have a concern regarding how to learn and teach about the Holocaust after survivors and liberators are no longer alive to provide first-hand testimony. In response to this dilemma, I have developed a digital humanities web portal unique to Nebraska to preserve the survivors’ and liberators’ collective and individual memories. The Nebraska Holocaust Survivor & WWII Veteran Network and Educational Portal, the product for this dissertation, integrates local narratives with digital humanities frameworks to establish a dynamic, public platform and provide various educational opportunities. The site encourages engagement with online primary resources of Holocaust survivors and Nazi camp liberators who settled in Nebraska following WWII.

First, I introduce my positionality as a Jewish, Holocaust educator and include a literature review integrating frameworks of critical theories. I proceed by providing an explanatory video chapter of the development and methodology of the digital humanities portal. This research also considers how the website can be a teaching tool that interfaces with digital storytelling to accompany state educational standards in secondary classrooms and higher education research. The final section includes some observations on preliminary student reflections and suggestions for future assessments that will be implemented with the use of this tool.

The site enables users to understand the deconstruction of democracy in pre- WWII Europe and exemplifies the power of an individual’s resilience. Pedagogue Ivan Illich (1973, as cited in R. Kahn, 2010) claimed technologies “could guide the reconstruction of education to serve the need of varied communities, to promote democracy and social justice” (pp. 96-97). Today, digital access to materials related to the Holocaust offers avenues for discovery and research previously not imagined. Investigating initial responses to the portal’s searchable and aggregated resources provides insight into the impact of information through different digital humanities repositories. Centering these unique stories preserves the memories of these individuals, enhances their narratives with primary resources, and provides educational opportunities for studying the Holocaust.