Learning from the Early Stages of the Holocaust
GRADE LEVEL: 7–12
GRADE-LEVEL APPLICABILITY: 7–12
SUBJECTS: World History, American History, European History, Genocide Studies, Social Justice
TIME REQUIRED: One or two class periods
This lesson was originally developed for onsite use with student groups after they visited the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition.
The history of the Holocaust is a powerful subject for pedagogical examination of human behavior and basic moral issues. It also provides an occasion for exploring what it means to be a responsible citizen of the nation and the world—an issue that is at the core of education in the United States.
Through study of the history of the Holocaust, students may learn that:
- Democratic institutions and values are not automatically sustained but rather must be appreciated, nurtured, and protected;
- Remaining silent about or indifferent to the suffering of others or to the infringement of civil rights may perpetuate these problems;
- The Holocaust was not a historical accident—it occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that fostered hatred, legalized discrimination, and ultimately allowed mass murder to occur.
Study of the Holocaust may also help students learn to identify early warning signs of genocide.
This lesson underscores the importance of questioning, personal responsibility, and critical thinking about world events.
In this lesson, students will develop visual literacy skills and refine their ability to analyze primary sources by examining photographs from the early years of the Holocaust.