Resource Overview

Pedagogy for Instruction

Lesson Plans

I. Studying the Holocaust

II. Antisemitism

III. Nazi Germany

IV. The Ghettos

V. The “Final Solution”

VI. Liberation

VII. Jewish Resistance

VIII. Rescue and Righteous Among the Nations

IX. Complicity and Responsibility

X. Justice, Life, and Memory After the Holocaust

XI. Gringlas Unit on Contemporary Antisemitism

XII. Teaching About Genocide

Digital Student Activities

Podcast for Students

Timeline of the Holocaust

Audio Glossary

Upper Elementary Guidelines

Schindler's List

Classroom Poster Series

We Share The Same Sky Companion Resource


Our Lesson Plans provide a unique experience for educators to teach about the Holocaust effectively and interactively. The modular design of the lessons found within each unit allow for adaption and customization to specific grade levels and subject areas. The integration of rich content helps students construct an authentic and comprehensive portrait of the past as they frame their own thoughts about what they are learning, resulting in a deeper level of interest and inquiry. Each lesson includes:
  • Step-by-step procedures
  • Estimated completion time
  • Resources labeled by icons        direct teachers to the piece of content named in the procedures
  • Print-ready pages as indicated by  are available as PDFs for download
If you are new to teaching about the Holocaust, we encourage you to participate in one of our online course offerings to support instruction ahead. As well, for teachers with limited instructional time seeking a starting point, we offer a sample One Day Lesson Plan, as well as a sample Day Two Lesson Plan for a 2nd class period of instruction.
For more information, questions or concerns please contact us.


December 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, which depicts the true story of Oskar Schindler—a man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. It was Spielberg’s experience making this film that inspired him to collect and preserve the testimonies of over 54,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, a pursuit which ultimately led to the creation of what is now USC Shoah Foundation.

In honor of Universal Pictures’ rerelease of Schindler’s List, Echoes & Reflections has created a short, classroom-ready Companion Resource, that will help educators to provide important historical background and context to the film, as well as explore powerful true stories of rescue, survival, and resilience with their students.

Additionally, the following videos, recorded at Yad Vashem, feature Schindler survivors who speak of the impact Oskar Schindler had on their lives.

Eva Lavi was the youngest survivor from Schindler’s list. She was two years old when the war began.
Nahum Manor met and fell in love with his wife, Genia, in Schindler’s factory. Watch him read a letter at Schindler’s gravesite, expressing what he meant to them.

Visit the IWitness page commemorating the 25th anniversary of Schindler’s List for numerous additional resources to support teaching with this film.

Echoes & Reflections is excited to announce that our poster series: Inspiring the Human Story, is now available in PDF format, free of cost.

The posters feature the powerful words and experiences of Holocaust survivor and memoirist Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt, and Anne Frank rescuer, Miep Gies. Each poster promotes meaningful conversation and reflection in the classroom, whether in person or in a virtual setting, and inspires students with powerful human stories of the Holocaust that can continue to guide agency and action as a result of studying this topic.

To support you in these efforts, we have also compiled several suggested classroom activities from teachers in our network that may be of use and interest.

Please fill out the form below to access and download your PDF posters.


USC Shoah Foundation’s first podcast, We Share The Same Sky, seeks to brings the past into present through a granddaughter’s decade-long journey to retrace her grandmother’s story of survival. We Share The Same Sky tells the two stories of these women—the grandmother, Hana, a refugee who remained one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and the granddaughter, Rachael, on a search to retrace her grandmother’s history.

A self-portrait of Rachael while she is living on a Danish farm that is owned by the granddaughter of Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2017

In order to enhance its classroom use, USC Shoah Foundation and Echoes & Reflections have created a Companion Educational Resource to support teachers as they introduce the podcast to their students. This document provides essential questions for students, as well as additional resources and content to help build context and framing for students’ understanding of the historical events addressed in the podcast.

Access to the podcast, as well as additional supporting materials—including IWitness student activities, academic standards alignment, and general strategies for teaching with podcasts—can all be found at the We Share The Same Sky page in IWitness.

Note: Due to the subject nature, the podcast is appropriate for older students, grades 10-12. As always, teachers should review the content fully in advance to determine its appropriateness for their student population.

After many years of research and digitizing the archive her grandmother left behind, Rachael set out to retrace her grandmother’s 17 years of statelessness. Her intention was to travel via the same modes of transportation and to live similar style lives as to what her grandmother did during the war and in the years after. That meant that when she got to Denmark, she moved to a farm. Rachael moved in with the granddaughter of her grandmother’s foster mother from World War II and traded her labor for room and board as Hana once did. This picture is from that first visit in the winter of 2015. Since this time, Rachael has spent many more months living on this farm. It is owned by Sine Christiansen and her family. Sine is the granddaughter of Jensine, one Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2015

A self portrait of Rachael overlooking the exact spot in Southern Sweden where her grandmother’s refugee boat came to shore in 1943. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2016



The following points are intended to help educators consider the complexities of teaching about antisemitism, Nazi racial ideology, and propaganda, and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.

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  • This unit has been designed to help teachers translate the abstract and interrelated ideas of antisemitism, ideology, stereotypes, and propaganda into active learning experiences, thereby creating frameworks for processing and organizing information that otherwise might be difficult for students to understand. For some students, it will be challenging to comprehend circumstances that are outside of their immediate environment or experiences, and for which they have little or no previous knowledge or background. There is also the possibility that students will be introduced to the concept of hatred against the cultural group with which they identify or to which they belong.

  • Antisemitism can be broadly defined as the hatred of Jews as a group or a concept, and it can take many explicit and subtle forms. Antisemitism did not begin when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in January 1933. Antisemitism had long been entrenched in Germany and other European countries, as well as the United States. For many centuries, Jews had been the victims of widespread suspicion and hatred that had periodically led to violence, murder, and pogroms (organized violent attacks). By studying the roots of antisemitism and its various forms, students will better understand the historical context surrounding the rise of racial antisemitic ideology.

  • This lesson explores Nazi propaganda used to disseminate antisemitic ideology and stir hatred. Propaganda was an important tool of the Nazi Party both before and after it took power in Germany in 1933. Nazi propaganda took many forms, including books, posters, speeches, music, and even children’s games. This lesson aims to reinforce the idea that propaganda is manipulative and that no one is immune to it. Students are encouraged to consider how they might engage critically with propaganda, both historically and in contemporary societies.

  • Throughout the lesson, students will examine antisemitic texts and images, which were and still are dehumanizing. Often this dehumanization relies on the propagation of harmful stereotypes about Jewish people. While it is important for students to understand historical and contemporary antisemitism, it is imperative to contextualize stereotypical, antisemitic depictions in texts and images before introducing them to students, as well as to focus on the humanity of those targeted.

  • When discussing stereotypes, propaganda, and other expressions of hate, there is always the possibility of introducing students to generalizations with which they are not already familiar. Thus, special care should be taken when debriefing this lesson to reinforce the idea that, while some stereotypes may seem easy to believe, that does not make them true. It is also important to create an environment in which students feel comfortable asking questions about the origins of specific stereotypes and why they continue to be widely believed. When discussing these issues with students, particularly if you have students who might be on the receiving end of the messages and impacts of such stereotypes, educators should be attuned to how these discussions may affect them.

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In this unit, students learn about the origins of antisemitism and how this hatred was exploited by the Nazis during the 1920s and 1930s as part of their racist ideology. Students define the terms antisemitism and stereotype, review text and video sources, and create a timeline reflecting examples of antisemitism throughout history. Students then investigate how Nazi ideology created new forms of antisemitism, and analyze primary source material illustrating Nazi propaganda. Visual history testimonies are used throughout the lesson to deepen students’ understanding of lesson themes.

Essential Questions
  • What is antisemitism, and what have been its effects on Jewish people and the societies in which they have lived?
  • How do ideologies circulate within societies and influence individuals and groups?
Students will:
  • Define and provide examples of historical antisemitism.

  • Define and identify examples of stereotypes, including antisemitic stereotypes

  • Trace the origins of antisemitism and compare pre-Nazi antisemitism with Nazi racial ideology.

  • Investigate how propaganda, based on ideology, is a means for inciting hate in a population.

  • Describe and give examples of Nazi propaganda methods used to propagate antisemitism and isolate Jewish people.

  • Analyze Holocaust survivor testimony as a primary source.


Academic and SEL Standards View More »
School Library Standards View More »

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Testimony Reflections View More »


90 minutes

LESSON 1: Antisemitism Before the Holocaust


In this lesson, students investigate the history of antisemitism and ways in which it has been expressed across different times and places, based on religion and political ideas. They view testimonies that reflect the lives of Jewish people in Germany before and after the Nazis took power in order to understand the precipitous rise of antisemitism in Nazi Germany in conjunction with Nazi ideology and racist hierarchical theories. Students then analyze text and video sources that explicate the roots of this antisemitism and how it morphed in the Nazi era, and create a timeline illustrating what they have discovered.

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1Students watch testimony clips of two individuals who describe their lives in Germany before the rise of the Nazi Party: [L]H. Henry Sinason[/L] and [L]Margaret Lambert[/L]. As they watch the clips, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout, found at the beginning of this unit. After viewing the clips, the class discusses the following questions: pin1

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  • How do H. Henry Sinason and Margaret Lambert describe their relationship to Germany? Is this surprising to you? Why?

  • How does Margaret describe the relationship between Jews and non-Jews before the war?

  • Henry mentions that his father considered himself “German first and Jewish second.” What does this lead you to believe about how some Jews identified with their country during this time period?

2The quotes below from the testimonies are posted. Students journal in response to the quotes using the following prompt: “What coming changes are H. Henry and Margaret signaling?” After writing, students form small groups and share their ideas. QUOTES
  • “We were comfortable economically, at least before the Nationalist Socialist regime took over in Germany.” (H. Henry Sinason)
  • “I was the only Jew in my class and it never made any difference…I never felt any antisemitism, until a certain time.” (Margaret Lambert)
3Students watch testimony clips of two individuals who were affected by rising antisemitism in the years after the Nazis took power in 1933: [L]H. Henry Sinason[/L] and [L]Henry Laurant[/L]. As they watch the clips, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout, found at the beginning of this unit. After viewing the clips, the class discusses the following questions:
  • How do these stories reflect the changes signaled by H. Henry and Margaret in the previous clips?

  • How does H. Henry say that his friendships changed over time?

  • Describe the picture that formed in your mind of Henry’s father upon discovering the vandalism. Though he was aware of rising antisemitism in Germany, how did this event surprise or affect him on an emotional level?

  • How do these testimonies add to your understanding about how the atmosphere in Germany was changing after 1933? How do they make you feel?

4Students return to their journals and respond to the following prompt: “Do you think the antisemitism experienced by H. Henry and Henry was something new or a form of hatred that had been present before the Nazis rose to power? Explain.” As time allows, students discuss their ideas as a class. They learn that in part two of the lesson, they will investigate this question further.

What is Antisemitism?
here »
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
5In pairs or small groups, students define the term stereotype in their own words and create a concept map as shown below, or by using the Defining Stereotypes handout.

Defining Stereotypes View More »
6Groups share their definitions and reach a common understanding that a stereotype is “an oversimplified generalization about a person or group of people without regard for individual differences.” As a class, they discuss the following questions:
  • Why might people believe and spread stereotypes?

  • Why are certain groups in a community or society more subject to stereotypes?

  • In your experience, what groups are subject to stereotypes and prejudice?

  • What is the impact of stereotypes on both targeted individuals and groups, and the wider community?

7Students engage in a think-pair-share in response to the following question: “What is the relationship between stereotypes and prejudice?” The class discusses some of the thoughts that surfaced and explores the idea that generalizations about a group of people can lead to negative beliefs, thoughts, or feelings about that group.
8The handout, Definition of Antisemitism, is projected or distributed, and students learn that antisemitism is the name given to prejudice and hatred against Jewish people. They read the handout together and discuss any questions that arise. Students learn that they will delve more deeply into the ways in which anti-Jewish stereotypes and other forms of antisemitism have been expressed throughout history.

Definition of Antisemitism View More »
9In pairs or small groups, students read the Summary of Antisemitism handout and view the Video Toolbox on antisemitism, from 2:00-5:29. They note key ideas, paying particular attention to stereotypes that appear repeatedly in different eras and the religious origins of antisemitism. They then create a timeline by hand or by using the handout, Timeline of Antisemitism, depicting anti-Jewish stereotypes and other expressions of antisemitism described in the sources, indicating which are unique to particular periods and which have been persistent over time.

Summary of Antisemitism View More »

Timeline of Antisemitism View More »

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OPTION: Small groups each focus on one era (e.g., “Middle Ages”) and contribute items to a timeline that the class creates collaboratively.

10Students post their timelines so that their peers can view the ideas they’ve captured. As a class, they discuss the following questions:
  • How are antisemitic stereotypes rooted in religion?

  • Which stereotypes about Jewish people repeat themselves in different periods and seem most lasting?

  • How did the Nazis use antisemitic stereotypes and prejudice to gain and build their power?

  • How is it that the experiences of Jewish people like H. Henry and Margaret changed from acceptance/inclusion to rejection/exclusion in a short period? What do you think caused antisemitism in Germany to rise so quickly?

  • What factors can cause a society to turn against or “other” a group of people that have long been a part of that society?

11As a summative task, students write a definition of antisemitism in their own words. Below their definition, they list at least two ways in which antisemitism has been deeply rooted in societies, citing evidence from lesson sources to support their responses.


120 minutes

LESSON 2: Nazi Antisemitic Ideology and Propaganda


In this lesson, students define ideology and propaganda and explore the ways in which Nazi ideology both reflected historic antisemitism and created new forms of antisemitic hate. Students investigate primary and secondary source material about Nazi ideology and analyze visual examples of Nazi propaganda to deepen their understanding of how these techniques were deployed. Students view visual history testimonies to learn about the personal impact of propaganda.

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1The handout, How are Ideology and Propaganda Related?, is distributed. The class reviews the definitions of ideology and propaganda together. In pairs or small groups, students complete the handout, listing examples and exploring the relationship between the two concepts. The class then reconvenes to review their conclusions. The idea that propaganda is a vehicle for disseminating ideology is emphasized, and the following characteristics of propaganda are shared to help students understand how it influences members of a society.

How are Ideology and Propaganda Related? View More »
  • Repeats the same information over and over

  • Gives the illusion that most people agree with the message

  • Often twists and exploits the truth

  • Talks to people in their own language

  • Appeals to people’s emotions

  • Uses accessible media (e.g., newspaper, radio, social media)

2Students remain in their groups and examine the map, Jewish Communities Before the Nazis Rise to Power. They chart their observations as illustrated below, or by using the handout Jewish Communities Map Analysis.

MAP: Jewish Communities Before the Nazis Rise to Power
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Jewish Communities Map Analysis View More »
3The class reconvenes and discusses the inferences they made as well as any outstanding questions. The following ideas are highlighted:
  • Jewish people represented a very small percentage of the population in European countries – the odds were that most people in those countries had never met a Jew.

  • It’s easier to believe propaganda about people with whom you have limited or no experience.

  • The Nazis used propaganda to incite antisemitism so that even people who would have had no reason to hate Jewish people began to believe the poisonous ideas about them.

  • Even people who should have known better – like H. Henry’s friends and Margaret’s teammates – were influenced by the stereotypes and false ideas spread by the Nazis.

4Students continue to investigate the nature of Nazi ideology and propaganda by consulting at least two of the sources below. In small groups, they record examples of ideology and propaganda, and consider how the Nazis made use of historical antisemitism and also created new forms of antisemitism.
    SOURCES OPTIONAL: Students can also revisit the final section of the Summary of Antisemitism handout from the previous lesson.

    Nazi Ideology View More »
    Summary of Antisemitism View More »
    5In their groups or as a whole class, students discuss the following questions:
    • How did Hitler’s writings reflect previous antisemitic stereotypes? What new ideas appear in his writings?

    • How did Nazi ideology build on older and well-known antisemitic stereotypes and religious hatred from the past? Why might the Nazis have done this, and why might this have been particularly effective?

    • How did the Nazis create new forms of antisemitism? How did they persuade and compel the German people to accept these forms of antisemitism?

    6Students watch testimony clips of two individuals who convey how Nazi ideology and propaganda manifested in Germany and affected their lives: [L]Judith Becker[/L] and [L]H. Henry Sinason[/L] As they watch the clips, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout, found at the beginning of this unit, and continue to note examples of ideology and propaganda.
    7After viewing the testimony clips, students journal and/or participate in a whole group discussion in response to some of the following questions:
    • Why did the Nazis form the Hitler Youth and target young people with their ideology? Why were many youth receptive to these messages? What pressures might those who resisted these messages have faced?

    • What does the story Judith Becker shares reveal about Nazi ideology?

    • What is your reaction to the principal in Judith’s story, who is personally supportive of Felix but ultimately asks him to leave the school? What pressures did he face? What choices did he have in this situation?

    • How did Nazi ideology and propaganda affect H. Henry Sinason? How did these forces creep into and invade the everyday lives of Jewish people?

    Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
    8Six examples of Nazi propaganda are displayed around the room. Individually or in pairs, students take a “gallery walk” and visit each example for a short amount of time (images can be viewed in any order). At each station, students chart their answers to the questions below on paper or by using the handout, Nazi Propaganda Analysis.

      Nazi Propaganda Examples View More »
      Nazi Propaganda Analysis View More »
      9After completing the gallery walk, students stand near one image that they found to be a particularly effective example of propaganda’s ability to manipulate others. They write why they chose that image on a sticky note and place it near the image. The group that has gathered at each image talks about their responses. The class discusses some of the following questions as time allows.
      • Do you think people were able to recognize this propaganda as false? Among those who did, what might they have been thinking and feeling at the time?

      • How did the propaganda and stereotypes used by the Nazis dehumanize Jews? What might have been the effects of such dehumanization for both individuals and Jewish communities in Germany?

      • Why do you think few people spoke out against anti-Jewish propaganda?

      • Can you think of examples of societies today in which it is dangerous to criticize government propaganda?

      10Students watch a testimony clip of an individual who shares how she was affected by Nazi propaganda: [L]Esther Clifford[/L] . As they watch the clip, students take notes on the Testimony Reflections handout, found at the beginning of this unit. After viewing, they discuss the following:

      How did propaganda fuel the Holocaust?
      here »
      • What were some of the visual images that Esther Clifford talks about seeing on her way to school? What aspects of Nazi ideology did they reflect?

      • What effect did seeing this propaganda have on Esther? How did it make her feel to see members of her community engaging with it?

      • Thinking back to the testimonies of H. Henry and Henry, how were they impacted by propaganda spreading in their communities?

      • Esther comments that “By the time I got to school, I couldn’t learn.” What examples of prejudice are you aware of today that might prevent students from learning in school?

      11As a summative task, students create or use the handout, “3 x 3” journal, addressing the unit essential question, “How do ideologies circulate within societies and influence individuals and groups?” The journal is a grid that includes three facets of Nazi ideology in the first column, and examples of propaganda used to disseminate it in the other columns. As an extra challenge, students can be asked to include at least one example of ideology that exploited historical antisemitism and one that represented a new idea. Students should include evidence from lesson sources to support their ideas. The journal can be adapted to be shorter (“2 x 2”) or longer (“4 x 4”) depending on time available and student needs.

      “3 x 3” journal View More »
      Making Connections  

      The ideas below are offered as ways to extend the lessons in this unit and make connections to related historical events, current issues, and students’ own experiences. These topics can be integrated directly into Echoes & Reflections lessons, used as stand-alone teaching ideas, or investigated by students engaged in project-based learning.

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      1Developing students’ media literacy skills is a crucial component in today’s world. Check out this student self-directed activity, Using Media Literacy Skills to Examine the Holocaust, and assign to your students to foster this skill alongside furthering their understanding of the impact of propaganda on individuals in a society.
      2Visit IWitness ( to access additional testimonies, resources, and learning activities about pre-war Jewish life, propaganda, and antisemitism in Europe.
      3Many people thought that after the Holocaust, antisemitism would disappear. Complete a research project that explores why this form of hate has persisted. Work in small groups to develop a written, oral, or visual presentation. Consult the Anti-Defamation League ( and Southern Poverty Law Center ( websites among other sources. Some of the following questions should guide the research:
      • What organized groups use antisemitism to advance their goals?

      • How have these groups made use of Nazi ideology?

      • What other groups of people do these hate groups target?

      • What activities of these hate groups are banned by law? What activities are legal?

      • Who joins hate groups? How are young people lured into joining hate groups?

      • What role does the Internet play in spreading the message of hate groups?

      • What recent events have served to increase the intensity and broaden the scope of modern antisemitism?

      4Organize a debate as follows: One group argues that the United States government should prohibit the activities of groups and individuals that promote hatred, as in Germany, where the dissemination of racist and antisemitic material is illegal; the other group argues that the First Amendment must be upheld, which includes the freedom of expression for groups that promote hate.
      5The antisemitic children’s book, The Poisonous Mushroom (Der Giftpilz in German), was written by Ernst Hiemer and published by Julius Streicher, who also published the antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer. Gather information from multiple print and digital sources about how children’s books like The Poisonous Mushroom were used to promote Nazi ideology. Prepare a presentation using PowerPoint or another multimedia tool. Presentations should include examples of children’s books published during the period, information about how people responded to the books, if possible, as well as your interpretations of the books and what was learned about propaganda from studying them.
      6Answer the following question in an explanatory text or a multimedia presentation: How are we influenced by propaganda in our lives and how can we protect ourselves from harmful propaganda? First, identify examples of propaganda, for example through advertising, social media influencers, or political ads and campaigns. After describing the examples gathered, analyze the techniques that are being used to influence people and what impact they might have. Conclude with ideas about safeguards that might be employed to protect people from any negative influences.
      blood libel
      The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
      LEFT COL