- Step-by-step procedures
- Estimated completion time
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- BRIGITTE ALTMAN, JEWISH SURVIVOR
Below is information to keep in mind when teaching the content in this unit. This material is intended to help teachers consider the complexities of teaching about perpetrators, collaborators, and bystanders and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.
This unit provides an opportunity for students to examine the complex issues of responsibility and guilt within the context of the Nazi occupation of Europe. Students will also learn about the war crimes trials following World War II and consider the responsibility of the free world to provide a safe haven for refugees attempting to escape Europe. This unit also provides students with an introduction to Holocaust denial as a contemporary form of antisemitism.
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
Perpetrators and Collaborators of the Holocaust
|1||Write the following words on the board or on chart paper: “guilt” and “responsibility.” Allow time for students to brainstorm the meaning of each term. Leave the brainstorming activity visible, and encourage students to add to the definitions as they proceed with the lesson.|
|2||Introduce students to Jan Karski and Dennis Urstein and show their testimonies. Follow with a discussion using the questions below.|
|3||Provide students with background information on the role of the railroad system in the implementation of the “Final Solution” in the corresponding Note.|
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|4||Divide the class into small groups and distribute Salitter’s Report. Before they begin reading the document, share with students that men who took jobs like Salitter’s were not forced to do so and that the job was considered prestigious. As students study the document, have them pay close attention to both the tone and language used in the report.|
Salitter's Report View More »
|5||While reading the report, instruct each group to select a recorder to keep a list of all the people appearing in the document who participated in this deportation. When students have finished reading the document, have them add other people who are not mentioned in the document but who also must have taken part in this deportation (e.g., someone had to write the lists of people who would be sent to their deaths, the neighbors, the people in Riga, the people who would murder them later, the officers who gave the orders).|
|6||In a whole-group discussion, have students answer the questions below, citing textual evidence for their responses whenever possible.|
|7||Using the notes from the students’ small-group work, prepare a composite list of all the people appearing in the document who participated in the deportation and ultimate fate of Jews in the transport. Have groups also offer additional names of those not mentioned in the document. Next to each person’s name on the list, have students determine, on a scale of 1 to 4, each person’s level of responsibility in what happened to the Jews. Have students support their choices and discuss areas of disagreement.|
1 = Not responsible
2 = Minimally responsible
3 = Somewhat responsible
4 = Guilty
|8||To ensure that students understand the meaning of the words “collaboration” and “collaborator” within the context of World War II and the Holocaust, distribute the Collaborators handout and read together. Follow with a discussion using some or all of the questions below.|
Collaborators View More »
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
War Crimes Trials
|1||Distribute the War Crimes Trials handout. Have students review the text and answer the questions that follow. [Optional: This can be assigned for homework beforehand or students can read and discuss the questions in small groups.]|
War Crimes Trials View More »
|2||Introduce students to Edith Coliver and Regina Zielinski; show their clips of testimony, and follow with a discussion using the questions below.|
|3||Distribute the Rudolf Hoess handout and read together as a whole group. Follow with a discussion, using some or all of the questions below. Instruct students to cite textual evidence to support their answers.|
Rudolf Hoess View More »
|4||Continue by distributing the Adolf Eichmann handout and read together. Ask students to consider some or all of the following questions:|
Adolf Eichmann View More »
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
Bystanders to History: The World’s Response to the Holocaust
|1||Provide students with background on the MS St Louis using the information provided in the corresponding Note.|
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|2||Introduce students to Sol Messinger and Liesl Loeb and show their clips of testimony. Conduct a whole-group discussion using the following questions:|
Voyage of the St. Louis: From Home to Despair
|3||As an introduction to the topic of the responsibility that other countries had in intervening in what was taking place in Europe, have students read the statements below (which should be prepared in advance on the board or chart paper) and decide with which position they identify most.|
a. Nations should be responsible for the safety of other nations and ethnic groups who are in danger at any cost.
b. Nations should be responsible for the safety of other nations and ethnic groups who are in danger if it suits their interests.
c. Nations should be responsible for the safety of other nations and ethnic groups who are in danger only if it doesn’t cost too much tax money.
d. Nations should be responsible for the safety of other nations and ethnic groups who are in danger if it doesn’t involve risking human lives.
e. Nations should not be responsible for the safety of other nations and ethnic groups who are in danger.
|4||Divide students into small groups and have them discuss their responses. Emphasize that the goal is not to persuade classmates to change their minds about which statement they chose, but rather to share ideas and thinking on the topic.|
|5||Explain to students that they will examine the issue of ways that the free world reacted to the fate of Jews by studying what came to be referred to as “the Jewish refugee problem.”|
|6||Distribute and read the Evian Conference and Bermuda Conference handouts. Follow with a discussion using the questions below.|
|7||Introduce students to Felix Nussbaum using information in the corresponding Note and then show The Refugee. Have students study the painting and then share their interpretations of it by discussing the following questions:|
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|8||Next, show students Portrait of an Unidentified Man. Have students study the painting and then share their interpretations of it by discussing the following questions:|
PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN
|9||To help students consider whether Nussbaum’s style was different in his earlier works, show them Shore at Rapallo, and have them discuss the difference in the artist’s style between 1934 and 1939. Explain that Nussbaum painted this picture of Rapallo in 1934, while visiting Italy with his companion and future wife, Felka Platek. Nussbaum spent time at the seaside resort with his parents, who were thinking of settling in Switzerland. This was the last summer that Nussbaum would spend with his parents, who returned to Germany and were eventually deported to Auschwitz and murdered.|
SHORE AT RAPALLO
|10||Introduce students to Samuel Bak using information in the corresponding Note, and show the painting Thou Shalt Not Kill. Have students study the painting and then share their interpretations of it by discussing the following questions:|
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THOU SHALT NOT KILL, DIPTYCH
|11||Provide students with background information on the debate regarding the role of the United States and other Allies with respect to the Holocaust available in the corresponding Note.|
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|12||In small groups or as a whole class, read each of the excerpts listed on the Primary Source Readings handout. After determining the central idea of each excerpt, have students develop a list of essential questions based on the documents to stimulate additional thought and inquiry on the topic of how United States’ officials responded to events as they were unfolding in Europe from 1933 to 1944.|
Primary Source Readings View More »
ESTIMATED COMPLETION TIME
|1||Have students consider the meaning of the word “denial” and “revisionism” and then discuss the meaning of “Holocaust denial.” [Optional: Have students look up “Holocaust denial” and “revisionism” in the Glossary.]|
|2||Introduce students to Brigitte Altman and show her testimony. Discuss the following questions:|
|3||The issue of Holocaust denial is a difficult and complex topic. It may be approached by asking the students if they think that it is possible, based upon the evidence that they have studied, to question that the Holocaust really occurred. Explain that some antisemitic groups and individuals have stated that the Holocaust did not really happen. These deniers make the following claims:|
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a. The number of Jews murdered (six million) is a gross exaggeration.
b. There was no Nazi program to exterminate Europe’s Jews.
c. Mass killings in gas chambers did not occur.
d. Jews were one of many groups who suffered during World War II and were not singled out for persecution.
|4||Individually or in small groups, have students research the topic of Holocaust denial with emphasis on the questions below. Encourage students to consult the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (ushmm.org) and Southern Poverty Law Center (splcenter.org) websites while conducting their research. Have students share their findings in a whole-group discussion.|
|5||Tell students that one way that those who deny the Holocaust have spread their propaganda in the past has been by purchasing scholarly sounding ads in college and community newspapers. Today much of their activity is through the Internet and social media, where there is a tremendous amount of material that promotes the denial and distortion of the Holocaust. Among other central ideas, they frequently call for an “open debate on the Holocaust,” and claim that while Nazi antisemitism did exist, this hatred did not result in an organized killing program. They also question the authenticity of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and other major museums and archives around the world. In Canada and Western Europe, Holocaust deniers have been successfully prosecuted under racial defamation or hate crimes laws. In the United States, however, the First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech, regardless of political content. While the First Amendment guarantees Holocaust deniers the right to produce and distribute their propaganda, it in no way obligates social media, Internet service providers, and other media outlets to provide them with a forum for their views.|
|6||Explain to students that they will now assume the role of a college newspaper staff. Following an intensive campaign to secure new ads to financially support their print and/or online school paper, they have been approached about publishing a Holocaust denial ad. The group is divided on the issue—half the “newspaper staff” believes that a Holocaust denial ad should be allowed to be published in the school newspaper and the other half believes it should not be permitted. Have students either self-select their side of the argument or randomly assign half the class to the argument in favor of printing the ad and half the class to the argument against printing the ad. Have groups develop their arguments and conduct a debate on the topic.|
|7||Have a closing discussion that asks students to consider some or all of the following questions:|
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The questions below, used in class or as homework, prompt students to reflect on what they are learning and its meaning in their own lives and in society.
These queries are excellent for journaling, allowing students to create their own primary source material. Keep in mind, the sensitive and emotional nature of the topics may preclude teacher evaluation. If journaling is used as an assessment tool, assure students that they will not be evaluated negatively for expressing opinions that may be different from others in class or from the teacher’s.
The additional activities and projects listed below can be integrated directly into the lessons in this unit or can be used to extend lessons once they have been completed. The topics lend themselves to students’ continued study of the Holocaust as well as opportunities for students to make meaningful connections to other people and events, including relevant contemporary issues. These activities may include instructional strategies and techniques and/or address academic standards in addition to those that were identified for the unit.
|1||Visit IWitness (iwitness.usc.edu) for testimonies, resources, and activities to help students learn more about topics covered in this unit.|
|2||Provide students with a copy of Salitter’s Report and Hilde Sherman’s Testimony, two documents from two different points of view, which outline the transport of 1,007 Jews in December 1941 from Dusseldorf to Riga. Have students carefully study the two texts, noting similarities and differences in the description of places, the sequence of events, how people interacted over the course of the transport, etc., and present their findings in a graphic organizer (e.g., Venn diagram).|
|3||Instruct students to research the facts behind the proposed bombing of Auschwitz and conduct a debate to discuss whether or not Auschwitz should have been bombed by the Allies.|
|4||Have students research how the Holocaust was covered in media, especially newspapers, in their state, city, or town. After gathering relevant information, instruct students to develop an argument to support or refute the idea that this event was accurately covered and reported to the public. If unable to locate local or state coverage, research how the Holocaust was covered in national media (e.g., The New York Times). Have students prepare a written or oral summary of their findings and conclusions. Encourage students to develop and respond to essential questions that this research prompts, e.g., “Had large media outlets like The New York Times done more to cover the Holocaust, would it have galvanized other media to do the same?” “Why was the media hesitant to cover what was happening to the Jews of Europe or, if they did cover these events, why were the articles buried inside the paper?” “What is the role of media in alerting and educating the public about events happening in the world?”|
|5||During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, up to one million people perished and as many as 250,000 women were raped, leaving the country’s population traumatized and its infrastructure decimated. Since then, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious justice and reconciliation process with the ultimate aim of all Rwandans once again living in peace. In the years following the genocide, more than 120,000 people were detained and accused of bearing criminal responsibility for their participation in the murder of ethnic Tutsis. To deal with such an overwhelming number of perpetrators, a judicial response was pursued on three levels:|
Bermuda Conferencebystandercollaborationconcentration campcrimes against humanityEichmann TrialEinsatzgruppen
European JewryEvian Conferenceextermination camp
revisionism“Righteous Among the Nations”Sobibor
war crimes trial