Millions of ordinary people witnessed the crimes of the Holocaust. These teaching materials explore the motives and pressures that led many individuals to abandon their fellow human beings—or to make the choice to help. To explore the experiences and decisions confronting victims and survivors, see the Museum’s lesson plans for teaching with Holocaust survivor testimony.
Exploring the Role of Ordinary People in the Holocaust
In this lesson, students will examine examples of individuals' choices from the "Neighbors" section of the Some Were Neighbors online exhibition and think critically about the fears, pressures, and motivations that might have shaped behaviors. For a broader exploration of the website, see the “Extension” section of this lesson.
Collaboration and Complicity During Kristallnacht
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?”
Holocaust Encyclopedia Articles
The following related articles contain critical learning questions that can be used when discussing article content with students.
Developed for university professors and their students, these educational modules explore how challenges to ethical behavior and leadership played out in the context of the Holocaust. They pose larger questions about how these challenges confront us today.
Oath and Opposition: Education under the Third Reich
Training for educators
These materials help today’s educators explore the pressures teachers felt under the Nazi regime, the range of decisions individuals made in the face of those pressures, and the relevance of this history now.