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Teaching Materials on Americans and the Holocaust

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Exploring the Online Exhibition

By exploring the Americans and the Holocaust online exhibition, students will examine the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped American attitudes and responses to the threats of Nazism and the Holocaust during the 1930s and 1940s. Students will learn about actions taken at all levels of society—by the government, the media, other organizations, and individual citizens—and how opportunities for action changed over time. This lesson promotes reflection and critical thinking about various factors that shaped attitudes and actions during that time and the factors that influence us today.

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History Unfolded: US Newspapers and the Holocaust

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.

History Unfolded Lesson Plan

Holocaust Encyclopedia Articles

The following related articles contain critical learning questions that can be used when discussing article content with students.

Interpreting News of World Events 1933–1938

By examining news coverage around three key events related to the early warning signs of the Holocaust, students will learn that information about the Nazi persecution of European Jews was available to the public. They will also consider the question of what other issues or events were competing for Americans’ attention and concern at the same time. Despite the many issues that were on their minds during the period 1933–1938, some Americans took actions to help persecuted Jews abroad, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

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Immigration and Refugees: A Case Study on the Wagner-Rogers Bill

By examining the Wagner-Rogers Bill of 1939, students learn how Americans debated the country’s role as a haven for refugees, identifying economic, social, and geopolitical factors that influenced Americans’ attitudes about the United States’ role in the world during the critical years 1938–1941. Using primary-source documents, students identify and evaluate arguments that Americans made for and against the acceptance of child refugees in 1939. The lesson concludes with reflection on questions that this history raises about America’s role in the world today.

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Isolation or Intervention? A Case Study on the Lend-Lease Act

In this lesson, students will identify multiple economic, social, and geopolitical factors that influenced Americans’ attitudes about the United States’ role in the world from 1939–1941, when people in the United States were deeply divided about what actions, if any, America should take in defense of countries threatened by German military conquest. Through an examination of primary source documents, students will identify and evaluate arguments that different Americans made for the provision of military materiel to Britain in 1940. Ultimately, students will reflect on questions that this lesson raises about America’s role in the world today.

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