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


120 Minutes

LESSON 2: Spiritual Resistance: Attempting to Preserve Humanity in the Face of Inhumanity


In this lesson, students consider how dehumanization made the Final Solution possible. They examine texts and testimony that delve into the theme of dehumanization from the perspectives of both a perpetrator and Jewish survivors. Students also interpret a variety of primary sources – including poetry and art – that deepen their understanding of spiritual resistance and how some people attempted to cope with and respond to Nazi atrocities.

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1Students brainstorm and note on the board a list of the things that make them feel human (e.g., satisfying basic needs such as nutrition, health, and shelter; emotions; relationships; self-expression; autonomy; social and cultural belonging; learning; laughing; leisure).
2Based on their list, the class comes up with a definition for dehumanize (e.g., to deprive someone of human qualities; to take away their dignity or make them feel less than human). The definition is posted and students are prompted to consider the following questions as they engage with the materials in this lesson:
  • How were Jewish people dehumanized as the Final Solution was carried out?
  • How did some Jewish people find ways to assert their humanity in the face of degradation and brutality?
3In pairs, students read the Interview with Franz Stangl and Excerpt from Survival in Auschwitz. They think about how dehumanization made the Final Solution possible from the perspectives of both a perpetrator and a target of Nazi hate. Pairs select one phrase from each reading that most reflects this dehumanization for them. The class engages in a read-around, in which students choose one phrase to read aloud.

Interview with Franz Stangl  View More »

Excerpt from Survival in Auschwitz View More »
4Students watch a testimony clip of a Jewish survivor who discusses her daily life at Auschwitz: [L]Itka Zygmuntowicz[/L]. As they watch the clip, students reflect on the theme of dehumanization and take notes on The One or Testimony Reflections handout.
5After reading the texts and viewing the testimony clip, students participate in a whole group discussion in response to some of the following questions:
  • According to Primo Levi and Itka Zygmuntowicz, how were the prisoners at Auschwitz stripped of their humanity? What are some examples of the physical and emotional humiliation they endured on a daily basis?

  • What does Levi mean by “the double sense of the term ‘extermination camp’”? What was lost in these camps beyond human life?

  • What was the effect, for Primo and Itka, of losing their possessions, names, and aspects of their identities?

  • Based on the testimony and Franz Stangl interview, what enabled the guards and officials at the camps to see Jewish people as less than human?

  • What is the connection between dehumanization and the ability to commit genocide?

  • What is your reaction to the claim by Stangl and other Nazis that they were working for the system and did not have a choice?

  • What was the power in Itka’s thought, “Our God is here, but where is yours?”

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
6In small groups, students interpret primary sources that reflect how some people coped with and responded to Nazi concentration and extermination camps. Stations are set up with the sources below. Students analyze at least two of these sources by discussing the accompanying prompts with their groups, and by continuing to record their reflections on The One handout.
  • Poetry: Poems from a Camp Survivor  pin1
  • Visual Art: Appell, 1944
  • Artifacts: Life in the Shadow of Death

Poems from a Camp Survivor View More »

View More »

Appell, 1944 View More »

Life in the Shadow of Death View More »
7The class debriefs the station exercise using the questions below.

Found Poetry: A Language Arts Lesson
here »
  • What feelings emerge from these works and images? What stories do they tell?

  • What is communicated through art and artifacts that cannot be communicated in a textbook?

  • What is spiritual resistance? How do these pieces and artifacts reflect the humanity of Holocaust victims and the resilience of the human spirit?

8Students continue to explore the idea of spiritual resistance through the following sources and take notes on The One or Testimony Reflections handout as they view/read:
  • Testimony of [L]Itka Zygmuntowicz[/L], who wrote poetry to cope with her feelings as a prisoner at Auschwitz.
  • Excerpt from Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau.

Excerpt from Man’s Search for Meaning View More »
9The class debriefs using some of the following questions:
  • How does Itka Zygmuntowicz distinguish between her physical and spiritual existence while imprisoned?

  • What did writing the poem help Itka to discover? How did it sustain her?

  • What does Viktor Frankl mean when he says his ”soul found its way…to another world”? What helped him to transcend life in the camps?

  • How do you interpret Frankl’s statement that there was no need for him to know if his wife was still alive? What figurative as opposed to literal meaning might this have?

  • After listening to Itka’s testimony and reading the selection from Viktor Frankl, what do you think made it possible for people to cope with life in a world that dehumanized them and denied their existence?

  • Why is it important for those studying the Holocaust to understand how Jews struggled for life and dignity in a world of dehumanization?

10As a summative task, students return to Elie Wiesel and react to the following quote:
    …We never try to tell the tale to make people weep…If we decided to tell the tale, it is because we wanted the world to be a better world…and learn, and remember. What is our role? We must become the messengers’ messengers.
      Students consider their role as the “messengers’ messenger” and articulate two or three messages that they would want to carry forward based on their study of the “Final Solution.” They indicate specific learnings from unit sources that informed or inspired each message.

      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.

      View More +
      1Visit IWitness ( for testimonies, resources, and activities to learn more about life in the camps, Babi Yar, the Einsatzgruppen, and other topics associated with the “Final Solution.”
      2In her testimony, Itka Zygmuntowicz recites the poem she wrote in Auschwitz—a poem about freedom. Many children (and adults) used art as a way to spiritually survive the experience of the ghettos, and in some instances, the extermination camps. Write about the importance of the arts in your life and how music, painting, writing poetry, or something similar has helped you during a particularly difficult time.
      3Throughout this unit, you have considered an important question regarding the Holocaust: How was the Holocaust humanly possible? Respond to this question in light of the material you have studied.
      4Review the Pyramid of Hate handout and consider whether “genocide” should be added to the top of the pyramid or if there are other changes to the graphic that are warranted based on your study of the Final Solution. Prepare a revised “pyramid of hate” or a completely different graphic representation that you feel more accurately depicts the escalation of hate. The revised graphic should be accompanied by a short explanatory text that explains the reasoning behind adding genocide to the top of the pyramid, changing the graphic entirely, or keeping it as is.

      Pyramid of Hate View More »
      5A diverse array of art was created during the Holocaust. Some pieces were sanctioned by camp or ghetto authorities for propaganda purposes or for the personal satisfaction of Nazi officials. Other art was created secretly and at great risk to the artists’ lives. Thousands of these clandestine pieces were discovered in ghettos and camps after liberation. Artists who survived the Holocaust also created works following liberation to document their experiences and interpretations of the Holocaust. Research and identify one piece of art created during or after the Holocaust that is meaningful to you. Create a multimedia presentation in which you display and interpret the artwork, provide background about the artist and circumstances under which the piece was created, and share why you chose it. Possible artists to research include Felix Nussbaum, Fernand Van Horen, Yehuda Bacon, Esther Lurie, Alexander Bogen, Hirsch Szylis, Charlotte Salomon, Samuel Bak, Bedrich Fritta, and Petr Ginz. Refer to the Yad Vashem website for additional information (
      6Research one of the topics below and prepare a presentation, in a format of your choice, on what you learned. Include information about at least three of the six extermination camps — Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Consult primary source materials as part of your research. Useful sites include Yad Vashem (, IWitness (, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website (
      • Topic #1: Resistance in the camps
      • Topic #2: Culture, religion, and education in the camps
      • Topic #3: Community and teamwork in the camps
      • Topic #4: Children in the camps
      • Topic #5: Survival in the camps
      • Topic #6: Information about a specific extermination camp
      7There are many films and novels that are set during the Holocaust, some based on true stories with fictional elements and others entirely fictional. Many of these works contribute positively to Holocaust education by raising awareness, evoking emotion, and inspiring reflection. Some, however – despite being labeled as fiction – present historical inaccuracies that can lead to a flawed understanding of the Holocaust. With this problem in mind, analyze a Holocaust novel or film that you’ve read/viewed before or choose a new one from the list below. Draft questions that help you to evaluate the accuracy of the story, for example the chronology or timeline of events, the language used to describe events, the way people are portrayed, the setting or location of events, etc. Note potential inaccuracies in the story and research them. Then write a brief report summarizing your findings and discussing the benefits and challenges of using fiction to learn about the Holocaust.
      • Possible Books:
      • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
      • Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
      • Friedrich by Hans Peter Richter
      • Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
      • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
      • Possible Films:
      • Anne Frank: The Whole Story
      • The Book Thief
      • Island On Bird Street
      • Life Is Beautiful
      • The Pianist
      • Schindler’s List
      • The Zookeeper’s Wife

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