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Lessons and Curricular Resources

getting started

overview of the holocaust (PDF)

Lesson length: One class period
Organized around a Museum-produced 38-minute documentary, The Path to Nazi Genocide, these materials and discussion questions provide students with an introduction to the history of the Holocaust.

TIMELINE ACTIVITY

Lesson length: Flexible
To provide historical context, this lesson includes relevant content cards to be discussed and displayed visually in the classroom on the following topics: Years of the Holocaust, Personal Testimonies, Nuremberg Laws, WWII and the Holocaust, and World Response.

Why didn't they just leave? (PDF)

Lesson length: One class period
Students will explore the documents necessary for emigration and immigration in the 1930s and read diary passages that personalize the challenges of seeking refuge. This lesson utilizes the following additional resources: The Path to Nazi Genocide, animated maps, and Salvaged Pages by Alexandra Zapruder.

teaching by topic

The United states and the Holocaust

HISTORY UNFOLDED: US NEWSPAPERS AND THE HOLOCAUST

Lesson length: Two-three class periods
Students investigate what information about the Holocaust was available in their communities by doing original research using historic newspapers found online or in a local library. Through an analysis of their discoveries, they better understand American responses to the Holocaust within the socio-economic and political context of the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.

Collaboration and Complicity

Ethical Leadership

Lesson length: One class period
These educational modules explore how challenges to ethical behavior and leadership played out in the context of the Holocaust and pose larger questions about how they confront us today. This lesson was designed for college level, but is adaptable for secondary level.

Oath and Opposition: Education Under the Third Reich

Lesson length: One to two class periods
This short video and discussion guide are paired with case studies and survivor testimony to examine the role of the teachers, students, and schools during the Holocaust.

Deconstructing the Familiar: Photo Activity

Lesson length: One class period
By examining historical photographs, students consider the pressures and motives that influenced the behaviors of ordinary people during the Holocaust.

Collaboration and Complicity during Kristallnacht

Lesson length: One to two class periods
This online activity  examines the actions of ordinary people through primary photographs and survivor testimony. It was created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the the USC Shoah Foundation’s iWitness project and poses the question, “How did the actions of ordinary people shape the events of Kristallnacht?”

propaganda

REDEFINING HOW WE TEACH PROPAGANDA

Lesson length: Teaching unit containing six lessons
This unit will increase your students’ abilities to critically analyze messages presented in both traditional and new forms of media. As students learn about the consequences of propaganda during the Holocaust, they will better value the importance of media literacy in a democracy.

Teaching with archival film footage

Three Minutes in Poland

Lesson length: One class period
Students view archival film footage documenting Jewish life in a small town in Poland before the German invasion in September 1939. They then explore how the community changed during the Nazi occupation.

contemporary genocide

Defying Genocide Study Guide (PDF)

Lesson length: One class period
This lesson helps students understand the context of the genocide in Rwanda. Students will examine the actions of a few individuals, like Damas Gisimba, who saved lives. Watch the video of his story online or request a free DVD (available only the US or Canada).

Curricular Resources

Teaching Using Survivor Testimony (PDF)

One of the most powerful ways to teach about the Holocaust is to bring the voices of survivors to your students. Precisely because they portray people in the fullness of their lives and not just as victims, first-person accounts add individual voices to a collective experience and help students make meaning out of the statistics. As you teach about key historical topics, incorporating survivor testimony personalizes the history, emphasizes its impact on individuals, and highlights the diversity of individual experiences.

Identification Cards

The sheer number of victims in the Holocaust challenges easy comprehension. When visitors enter the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition, they receive an ID card telling the true story of a person who lived during the Holocaust. Using these individual profiles, show your students that behind the massive statistics are real people—children and parents, neighbors and friends—and a diversity of personal experience. The collection is browsable by gender and age. Printable copies are available for download.

Holocaust History Animated Maps

Teach about  the scope and impact of the Holocaust using animated maps which illustrate topics in Holocaust history, including Auschwitz, Dachau, Lodz, Warsaw, World War II and the Holocaust, resistance, rescue, liberation, the voyage of the St. Louis, and the aftermath of the Holocaust.

An Overview of the Holocaust: Topics To Teach

We recommend that you introduce your students to these topics even if you have limited time to teach about the Holocaust.

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