Student Questions for “Where the Angels Lived”

Foundational Questions

  1. What is a Jew? What does it mean to be Jewish? 
  2. Find the map of Europe. Locate the country of Hungary, Pecs, and the concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria. Compare these countries sizes to the United States and individual states.
  3. The United States Holocaust Museum and Jerusalem’s Yad Vasham Museum have categorized those involved in the Holocaust: victim, perpetrator, rescuer, and bystander. Does Margaret’s book include examples of each person? How? Give examples.
  4. Was it easy for Margaret to find information regarding Richard and her family? Could she just Google every question she had? How did she research Richard’s life and death?
  5. Research restitution. What does it mean? Who got restitution after WWII and how long did it take for them to receive their money?
  6. Why didn’t the Engel family get their house back at the end of the war? What happened to all their possessions? 
  7.  Why is this book a memoir and not a biography? What is the difference?

Thought Provoking Questions

  1. Edmund Burke, British statesman. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Margaret’s great-great uncle Richard was one of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in WWII. How does the famous quote above apply to Richard’s death?
  2. The archivist at Yad Vashem tells Margaret she’s responsible for Richard and for filling out the Page of Testimony. Why was it hard to say yes to this responsibility? Would you have said yes? 
  3. Why during war can someone else take your house and your belongings? Is this fair? What would you do today if you went home and found another family living in your home and using all your possessions? 
  4. Is money enough to make up for years lost to war and dead family members? Why do you think governments offer money to victims of war?
  5. How did Margaret feel when she learned about her family members’ fate (angry, sad, etc.) How would you feel? How did Margaret turn her feelings into positive action?

Advanced Study Questions

  1. Why do you think Hitler targeted the Jews and others for extermination?
  2. Define genocide. Why is it important to study the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred around the world? What more do you want to learn about the Holocaust or another genocide?
  3. Research the factors and events leading up to WWII. How could so many people be convinced by politicians and propaganda that Jews were to be considered vermin and therefore, be exterminated?
  4. On page 208, Margaret asks, “How do you forgive a country?” What do you think a country or its government should do to make amends or atone for past sins? Can they? Do they need to? Governments are funded by the tax paying citizens. Should your children take responsibility for your sins? 
  5. The Kaddish prayer on page 234 is a Jewish prayer meant to help the soul of the deceased on its journey. Read the prayer. What does the peace of God offer to the reader and to the deceased? Was Margaret comforted by the prayer? Examine other prayers for the dead from other cultures. Any similarities?
  6. Think of your own life circumstances. Think of things that have made you angry or sad. How can you turn these into a positive? What will you do?