Distribute several photographs to be analyzed by students; depending on the class size, you may use up to 13 photos. You may want to organize students in groups and give one photo to each group or give each group several photos from which to choose. You may opt to cut the captions from the Teacher Resource Sheet and affix each one to the back of the appropriate photograph, or you may distribute the entire list of captions to students.
Ask students to analyze their photographs using the Student Worksheet and the appropriate Museum Photo Archives worksheets.
Ask students what the photographs tell them about Nazi persecution that occurred before the Holocaust. How could this information have been made available and to whom? Ask them to complete the Student Handout.
Ask students to describe their photographs to the rest of the group or class. What events or attitudes might have led to the actions depicted? Were they government-sponsored events, or were they generated by individuals or the community? Ask students to arrange the photographs in chronological order and to note any patterns.
- Which of the events or actions depicted in the photographs could have warranted a response from other countries in order to prevent genocide from occurring? (The teacher should place the events in historical context, as no one knew for certain at the time what would happen in the 1940s.)
Optional Discussion Questions
- Have any of these activities ever occurred in the United States? If so, how did other countries respond?
- Can you discern from the photographs whether the actions occurred only in the locations depicted or whether they might have occurred at multiple sites simultaneously?
- Is it important to determine if the actions depicted in the photographs were locally inspired or dictated by higher authorities? Provide examples to support your answers. What insight from this might you apply to events in the world today?
- Can you tell from the photographs if the actions were mandated by law or whether participants undertook them voluntarily? Provide examples to support your answers. Why might these be important factors to consider?
- What are some of the early warning signs of genocide? Are there obstacles that could prevent the outside world from responding to these signs?
Please provide students with historical context for this lesson, including the scope and sequence of the events of the Holocaust. You may consult the following resources:
- Teachers may opt to have the whole class look at one photograph together to develop a common approach and vocabulary before separating students into groups. The photo could be from the Holocaust or from another historical era. A worksheet is provided for you to guide students in this activity.
- Ask students to find other images on the Museum’s website that they think depict warning signs of the Holocaust.
- Ask students to find images from the Museum’s website, elsewhere on the Web, or another source that depict another conflict situation or genocidal event occurring. In what ways is the information conveyed in these images similar to that in the images from the Holocaust? In what ways is it different? What additional information would one need to obtain before determining whether a similar risk of genocide exists in the community or society depicted?
- Students will be assessed on the accuracy and thoroughness of their answers and ideas as they express them on the Student Handout.
- Teachers may choose to ask students to present their work to the class as a speech or as part of a debate.