Who is Responsible When Genocide Occurs?
PURPOSE OF LESSON
These lessons ask students to consider the level of responsibility of a variety of individuals for genocide perpetrated in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur, Sudan. Learners consider and debate the roles played by bystanders, collaborators, and perpetrators during these events. This lesson leads learners to discuss civic and personal responsibility for citizens at all times but especially in a times of extreme oppression and even mass murder around the world.
Be very clear about the background and context of each genocide discussed. Be wary of presenting this lesson after a Holocaust curriculum without a clear, shared rationale; students may make simplistic comparisons and draw shaky conclusions between the two events. These lessons are designed to share historical knowledge but also to raise specific questions about participation, collaboration, and indifference in general but specifically in regard to the discussed genocide.
GOALS FOR STUDENT UNDERSTANDING
- Students will learn about the roles played by different individuals during one of three genocides.
- Students will think about and refine their definitions of perpetrator, collaborator, rescuer, and bystander.
- Students will contemplate the concepts of personal and civic responsibility.