Lessons, Units, and Sources for further information:
See Global Dreamers lessons and activities and
add some of your own.
"For the dead and the living, We must bear witness." -by
Here is a wonderful article on :Teaching kids about the Holocaust
These sites need
to be previewed by teachers/parents for age appropriate use:
(Lesson Plans -From PBS)
Unit for Younger students:
Scholars of the Holocaust note that many Germans did not protest or
support the removal of their Jewish neighbors to ghettos and then concentration
camps. They simply did nothing, which was exactly what the Nazis and
the S.S. hoped would happen. Younger students can participate in exercises
that allow them to make evaluations about helping others and preventing
mistreatment of others.
Activity: Explain to students that they are going to work in teams to
discuss situations in which they must decide whether or not they will
help a person or animal in trouble. Teachers will want to write or type
these scenarios on paper strips and pass them around in a hat.
1 You are walking down the street, and you see a man steal a woman's purse
and run down the street.
2 You see a group of kids being mean to another student at recess at school.
3 You know that someone is taking credit for another student's work on a project
4 You see a young child crying by himself in an aisle at a big store.
5 You see a cat in the street about to get hit by a car.
6 You see a disabled person who looks like they might need help.
7 You hear someone telling a lie.
Ask students to discuss their decision in their groups for 5-10 minutes.
They should be able to report on several possible solutions, and what
they think the best solution would be. Validate all decisions.
Part II: Ask students if their group's decision would be different if
they were a very powerful person, like a police officer, or if they were
guaranteed that they would not be hurt themselves by helping. What if
they knew that they might risk their own life or reputation by assisting?
Direct students to do research about people who risked their lives and
reputations to help Jewish people during World War II; you might start
at the Yad Vashem Web site at http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/. Students
might present this research in a school hallway display ("Hall of
Fame," etc.) or in a school/community presentation.
Stories From The Children
There are many fine stories about children during the Holocaust. Choose
one of the novels appropriate for younger children: (summaries courtesy
of the Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust web site):
The Lily Cupboard by Shulamith Ley Oppenheim
Miriam, a young Jewish child, is sent away by her parents to live with
a Gentile family in the country. She must hide in the family's cupboard
when the Nazis come looking for Jews. The simple story is accompanied
by warm, colorful illustrations and a strong text.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
In Denmark in 1943, the lives of all Jews are in jeopardy. Ten-year-old
Annemarie's best friend, Ellen, is Jewish. Annemarie's family undertakes
the dangerous mission of smuggling Ellen and her family to Sweden aboard
the fishing boat that belongs to Annemarie's uncle. But when Anemarie's
mother is injured, and the special package that was to be delivered
to Annemarie's uncle on the fishing boat is found beside the porch,
it is up to Annemarie to deliver the package safely. Along the way,
she must contend with German soldiers as well as her own fear.
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
One night Monique discovers her mother has been hiding a Jewish family
in the basement when she wakes and finds a strange girl sitting at
the foot of her bed. Monique and Sevrine become friends. After the
girls are seen playing together, Monique's mother decides to leave
the village before the Nazis come looking for Sevrine's family.
Conduct a teacher-led listening period. At the end of each day's reading,
ask students to jot down thoughts or feelings in a journal. Then when
the book is finished, ask students to write a letter to Miriam or Annemarie,
and use their notes to help them remember the story and questions they
might have wanted to ask or things they might have wanted to tell the
As an extension, have students investigate other writings and drawings
in I Never Saw Another Butterfly : Children's Drawings and Poems from
Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944, edited by Hana Volavkova. Students
might compare the experiences of two or more authors, or create a scene
in which the authors meet and share experiences.
The Yellow Star
During World War II, by order of the Nazi government, all Jews in Germany
and Nazi-occupied areas of Europe had to wear a special cloth badge--a
yellow star--on the left side of their clothing, over their heart. If
Jews forgot to wear the badge, they could be fined, imprisoned, beaten,
or killed. However, wearing the badge meant that Nazi officials could
more easily identify Jews for attacks and forced labor.
Before the Yellow Star, Nazi officials often had to rely on stereotypes--what
they thought Jews looked like or acted like--to know who in a certain
town was Jewish and who wasn't. Once all Jews had to wear badges, it
separated them more easily from their neighbors and made them more vulnerable.
To see pictures of Jews wearing the badge during World War II, please
Talk with students about groups today who wear special articles of clothing.
What examples can they think of? (For example, prisoners wear special
uniforms; many Islamic women wear head coverings; Jewish men wear yarmulkes;
etc.) How is each situation different or similar to Jews wearing the
stars during World War II? (Be careful to make the distinction about
groups being able to choose to look different, due to cultural or religious
beliefs, and groups like prisoners who wear special clothing because
they have broken the law. Did the Jews during World War II break the
law, or choose to wear the stars?)
The Jews living in Europe during World War II were victims of discrimination,
prejudice, and stereotyping. Look up these three words as a class. Talk
more about stereotyping. What groups today are stereotyped? To start
discussion, you might have students think about the following ideas:
• All girls are...
• All boys are...
• All people who live in the country are...
• All immigrants are...
and so forth. Why do people stereotype others? Where do they get these
stereotypes? (Talk about family, media, jokes, etc.)
Have each student make a round badge out of construction paper. On one
side of the badge, the student should write the name of a group that
is often stereotyped. On the back of the badge, ask each student to write
down one way to change that stereotype in their school or community.
Students should share their badges and ideas in small groups.
• Jewish People: The Yellow Star
• Holocaust Memorial Center: Holocaust Badges
Unit for older students:
The Holocaust: How Could It Happen?
Many studies of the Holocaust concentrate on the atrocities that occurred.
Students may have an awareness that it happened, but they should also
develop an understanding of the political, economic, and social causes
that let to the events of the Holocaust. Creating a timeline of events
from 1936-1945 will help students identify, illustrate, explain, and
interpret the causes and progression of events that led to the Holocaust.
Students will work in small groups to create a life-size timeline on
large poster paper or newsprint sheets. Each large blank sheet should
represent one year, and that year will be written in large bold print
on the top, starting with 1936. Student will work in their groups to
decorate their year sheet with: pictures (photographs or drawings), slogans,
artwork, poems, copies or re-created newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia.
Encourage students to research the important events of that year and
think it terms of people and their ideas, the government, and the economy.
When student groups are finished with their posters, they will be hung
on a wall in the classroom or hallway, in consecutive years to create
Here are some Web sites to get students started on their research:
• AmEx: America and the Holocaust
• Daring To Resist: Three Women Face The Holocaust
• Frontline: Shtetl
• People's Century: Master Race
1 Have each student group present and explain their timeline year to the class
as a whole.
2 Evaluate student's on their understanding of the political, economic, and
social causes of the Holocaust, by answering the lesson's question with an
essay or a letter to people in the future: The Holocaust happened because..."
Daring to Resist: A Play in Five Acts
Many people know that the Holocaust claimed millions of victims. Although
millions of people suffered terribly during their time in concentration
camps and prisons, they did not sit passively without resisting. Their
individual and collective efforts to survive were a major part of their
lives, and often were acts of great risk and heroism.
Ask students to think about the words "survivor" and "victim." What
does each mean, and what is the difference between the two, if any? What
does it mean to be a victim of a terrible crime, versus being a survivor?
Can you be a victim and a survivor at the same time? Explain that the
purpose of the lesson is to evaluate how victims of the Holocaust attempted
to survive, and how they resisted the situation at the time.
Organize students into five groups, and let a leader pick a form of
resistance out of a hat or bowl:
• Death Camp Revolts
• Ghetto Revolts
• White Rose
• Yad Vashem (What is it, and how did these people contribute to acts of
resistance during the Holocaust?)
• Resistance at work and in factories
In 3-4 minute role plays, each student group should act out or demonstrate
how Jews and other persecuted peoples used a certain form of resistance
against their oppressors during the Holocaust.
Students will want to start with general search engines such as Yahoo.com
and Infoseek as well as the following Web sites to research their assigned
form of resistance:
• Transcripts to read from the PBS "Daring to Resist" broadcast
• Cybrary of the Holocaust
• United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
• Museum of Jewish Heritage
• Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies
• Yad Veshem: the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
• The Holocaust History Project Homepage
A Rhyme for Responsibility: Poetry From The Holocaust
People who survived and observed the Holocaust have recorded their
memories and thoughts with many art forms, especially literature. Ask
students to read the following poem that is on display in the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because
I was not a socialist,
Then they came for the trade unionists, but I did not speak out because
I was not a trade unionist,
Then they came for the Jews, but I did not speak out because I was not
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."
--By anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemoller
Ask students to read the poem to themselves, and then conduct a group
discussion beginning with the following questions:
1 What is the author trying to say? Why?
2 Is it the responsibility of people in a country or place to look out for
each other? Why or why not? Should citizens of one country or ethnic group
look out for citizens of another country or ethnic group? Why or why not?
3 What is a socialist? A trade unionist?
4 What does the word "they" refer to in each line?
Ask students to write about an experience they've had when they felt
like they observed something that made them want to take action, but
Refer to the Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site to locate more literature
and/or first hand narratives, or for more information: http://www.ushmm.org
1 Ask students to visit the "Public Programs: Poetry Inspired By The Holocaust" page
of the museum's Web site at http://www.ushmm.org/museum/publicprograms/programs/poetry01/
and listen to a cybercast of poetry presented live on Sunday, April 9 between
10am and 5pm EST. (Real Player software must be downloaded to use this audio
2 Share poems and artwork from texts such as I Never Saw Another Butterfly
: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944,
edited by Hana Volavkova.
3 Talk about Niemoller's poem in the context of human rights crises today.
What are our moral obligations to aid people in other countries? Students might
begin by learning more about Yugoslavia at the PBS Online NewsHour: Extra Web
site and the Srebrenica: A Cry From The Grave Web site.
The Forgotten Holocaust
Many people understand that the policies of the Nazi regime targeted
Jews. What many people do not know is that 5 million non-Jews were also
victimized during the Holocaust. Students will investigate Hitler's policies
of targeting people of mixed races, gays and lesbians, gypsies, and the
handicapped during the Holocaust.
Encourage students to think about the ways in which people all over
the world are different from each other. Start with gender or physical
aspects as a difference: some are men and some are women, or that some
people are tall and others are short. Then encourage them to think about
differences in beliefs.
Ask the students if they can think of the types of differences (physical
or religious) that have led people of one type to mistreat or persecute
other types of people. Then ask students why they think this happens.
Explain that the Holocaust is the epitome of a time in history when
one group of people (Nazi Germans and supporters) mistreated and persecuted
those that they considered different, and that they defined "different" very
Group students into teams of two. Ask them to conduct Internet and literary
research to discover why Hitler designed his policies to persecute those
who were different. Student's must be able to report who Hitler considered "different" and
who was targeted in his "Final Solution."
• Holocaust: Non-Jewish Victims
• Jewish Virtual Library
• The Holocaust History Project: Non-Jewish Victims
Essay: Ask students to explain what groups of people were also targeted
by Hitler and his supporters beside those of Jewish descent. Think about
the following questions when writing the essay:
• How did targeting those who were "different" fit in with Hitler's
• Why were the Nazis able to do this so successfully?
• How did people in Europe come to think about the groups of people who
made up the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust?
• Do these groups of people still faces negative experiences in the world
or within our country because of what makes them different or special?
This activity focuses one of the main goals of Holocaust education worldwide:
the prevention of further mass murder and genocide. Student will examine
efforts of Holocaust survivors, educators, sympathizers and world citizens
in preventing and protesting mass violence since the end of World War
II in other parts of the world.
1 Ask for a volunteer student to read the following quote aloud, "For
the dead and the living, We must bear witness." -by Elie Wiesel.
Hold a brainstorming session about the meaning of the quote. Who are
the dead and the living? What does it mean to bear witness?
2 Then ask students to get out pen and paper. Give them the dates of the Holocaust,
1935-1945. Ask them to figure out if anyone who was alive and affected by the
Holocaust could still be alive today. Ask students to make calculations based
on a person of their own age in 1943 to figure out how old a Holocaust survivor
would be today. If this person would live a normal life expectancy, how long
into the future will this generation of people be able to tell their stories?
10 years? 15 years?
3 Explain that one of the most familiar sayings about the Holocaust
again!" and that Holocaust education efforts aim to prevent genocide
and ethnic cleansing. Ask students what will happen after these people's
generation has passed on. Will their story still be relevant?
4 Ask students if they can think of anything that they have read or studied
in their classes or seen on the news that reminds them of the events of the
Holocaust? Ask students to work with a partner to examine one of the following
areas of the world that has seen mass violence since 1945:
5 Ask students to prepare a 5-10 minute exposé on the situation that
occurred in that country. How is it similar to the events of the Holocaust?
How is it different? What was the situation and who were the people involved?
Is it realistic to say that human beings can expected to learn from their mistakes?
If something terrible happens, and there is education about it, does that really
mean that it will, in fact, not happen again? Is it fair to call what has happened
in Rwanda or Cambodia a "holocaust" or does that diminish
the experience of Jews who survived concentration camps? Are these
situations equally severe, and if so, why don't more people know about
Student will want to start with the following resources:
? Frontline: The Triumph of Evil (Rwanda)
? NewsHour: Extra for Teens (Yugoslavia)
? Srebrenica: A Cry From The Grave
? From Sideshow to Genocide: Stories of the Cambodian Holocaust
? Holocaust Memorial Museum: The Committee on Conscience
? The Holocaust/Genocide Project
? The Web Genocide Documentation Center
? The Campaign to End Genocide
Teachers may want students to contact a Holocaust survivor's advocacy
group on the Internet to communicate with a Holocaust survivor about
feelings students have after learning more about their research topics.