“Toy Story 3” – A Holocaust Story?

On Sunday, December 2, the 5th grade students at Dor Tamid received a lesson on the Holocaust.  After the students heard the story of Rabbi Ron, whose mother was an Auschwitz survivor, we returned to the classrooms for further discussion.  Here is the lesson your children had.  I got such an amazing response from the kids, that I wanted to share it here on my website, so you could go through the lesson with your kids as well.

A special thanks to my friend, Jamie Turner, for allowing me to upload an extra long video to his YouTube channel!

Toy Story 3

I explained to the students that while the producers, writers & director of the movie they are about to see almost definitely had no intention of making this a Holocaust story, there is imagery and plot points that really mirror the story of the Jews in the Holocaust.

As we go through the movie, we’ll be stopping and starting the movie to discuss various points.  I think you'll be astonished to see just how many similarities there are between this movie and the Holocaust.  (Play Toy Story 3)


Scene 1 – Andy’s room – the toys are discussing the fact that Andy is going to be going to college.  

Similarities to the Jews:

●       The toys are uncertain what is going to happen to them, but they do know their fate will be decided by somebody else.  They think they are going to the attic, and they are trying to be positive about it.

●       The toys look around and see their numbers have dwindled… over time, their friends have been taken to other places.

●       The green army men desert the toys… a few Jews could see the writing on the wall and left Germany/Europe before things got bad.  (My Uncle George was one of them!)

●       Buzz reminds them to get all of their pieces together to go to the attic, just as the Jews gathered their belongings to bring them on the road.

●       All of the toys are consoled by the fact that no matter what happens they’ll be together.

Scene 2 – In the car on the way to Sunnyside – Andy’s toys mistakenly think that Andy was throwing them away, so they decide to allow themselves to be donated to the day care center.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       The toys are riding to the day care center in a dark, crowded box, just like the cattle cars that took Jews to the concentration camps.

●       Mrs. Potato Head comforts Barbie who is distraught at this turn of events, just as must have happened to the Jews in the cattle cars.

●       Woody tries to plot an escape, as many Jews must have attempted on the journey.

●       When the toys arrive at Sunnyside, they think it looks nice… “it even has a rainbow on the door.”  At Auschwitz (as the rabbi mentioned earlier), there was a sign which said, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (or work will make you free), designed to make you think it wasn’t such a bad place.

Scene 3 – The toys arrive at Sunnyside, meet Lotso (the head of all the toys) who makes them think they are in a good place, and then sends them off to the caterpillar room.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       The toys are convinced that their new leader, Lotso, has their best interest at heart.  He extols the virtues of Sunnyside, and then assigns them to the Caterpillar Room. Although I doubt the Nazis tried to convince the Jews they were in a "good place", they were certainly deceptive about sending the Jews to a bad place.

Scene 4 – Ken takes an instant liking to Barbie and invites her to stay with him in the Butterfly Room.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       Guards often played favorites with prisoners.  It might be a beautiful woman (as was the case with ken & Barbie).  It might be that the prisoner had connections to important people, and were able to get better work assignments (like the story Rabbi Ron taught us).  It might be that the prisoner was talented… a musician, an artist, a bookkeeper… the Nazis would use the talents of prisoners.

Scene 5 – The children come inside the room and play violently and destructively with the toys.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       The Jews were treated violently and subjected to horrible conditions in the concentration camp.

●       Buzz looks across to the Butterfly room and sees the toys there being treated kindly and appropriately.  Families of the Nazis lived inside the camps, and their homes seemed like an oasis… full of things denied to the prisoners.

Scene 6 – Buzz Lightyear turns the tables on his friends and suddenly puts Andy’s toys into cages and guards them.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       Oftentimes, the guards forced Jewish prisoners to guard each other.  You might think that the Jewish guards would be nicer to the prisoners, that they might have compassion for their fellow Jews.  However, many times they were even crueler than the Nazi guards… the Jewish guards believed if they were tough on the prisoners, then perhaps the Nazis would treat them favorably.

Scene 7 – Lotso tells Big Baby to take Mr. Potato Head into “The Box” to punish him and “teach him some manners.”

Similarities to the Jews:

●       It’s hard to even begin to describe the punishments that Jews were given during the Holocaust.  Suffice it to say that the guards had no qualms about killing, beating or torturing Jews.  And often, they did nothing to deserve their punishments.

Scene 8 – After staging a daring escape, Andy’s toys wind up at a dump, and end up on a conveyor belt, heading towards an incinerator.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       Although some Jews tried to escape, most of the time, the Jews went silently and bravely towards their death.  Most of them knew about the gas chambers and what was happening to them, and yet in the end, most of them complied with the instructions of the Nazis and ended their lives with as much dignity as possible.

Scene 9 – Andy ends up taking the toys to Bonnie and giving all of them (including Woody) to her.

Similarities to the Jews:

●       After the Holocaust, many of the Jews wound up living in new places, many of whom wound up going to Israel or America, where they could live a better life.