Produced in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, this unit shifts students’ study of World War II and Nazism to the other side of the Atlantic. The three-lesson unit deeply explores the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism and the humanitarian refugee crisis it provoked during the 1930s and 1940s. By examining primary sources that range from public opinion polls to personal narratives to radio plays, students will explore why widespread American sympathy for the plight of Jewish refugees never translated into widespread support for prioritizing their rescue. The unit also highlights the stories of individual Americans who did take tremendous risks to rescue Jews, as well as the questions this history raises for taking action in the context of contemporary refugee crises.
Lesson Plans and Teaching Materials
The .zip file for each lesson includes both the teacher materials and the student handouts, as well as any other media required.
- Lesson 1: The Refugee Crisis and 1930s America (ZIP)
- Lesson 2: The Child Refugee Debate (ZIP)
- Lesson 3: Refugees and Rescuers (ZIP)