Essay questions holocaust

Introducing the Writing Prompt
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  2. Introduction to the Holocaust

Students create working definitions of stereotype as they examine the human behavior of applying categories to people and things. Students learn a new concept, universe of obligation, and use it to analyze the ways that their society designates who is deserving of respect and caring. Students draft a working thesis statement for an argumentative essay about the impact of choices in history. Students analyze the socially constructed meaning of race and examine how it has been used to justify exclusion, inequality, and violence throughout history. Students explore the long history of discrimination against Jews and come to understand how anti-Judaism was transformed into antisemitism in the nineteenth century.

Students begin the unit's historical case study by exploring the brutal realities of World War I and the impact of the armistice and the Treaty of Versailles. Students reflect on the idea of democracy as they analyze the politics, economics, and culture of Germany during the period of the Weimar Republic. Students start to gather evidence that supports or challenges their initial thinking about the writing prompt. Students examine how choices made by individuals and groups contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party in the s and s.

Students examine the steps the Nazis took to replace democracy with dictatorship and draw conclusions about the values and institutions that make democracy possible. Students consider the choices and reasoning of individual Germans who stayed quiet or spoke up during the first few years of Nazi rule.

Students respond to the writing prompt in a journal reflection and begin to evaluate the quality of the evidence they are gathering. Students analyze several examples of Nazi propaganda and consider how the Nazis used media to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of individual Germans. Students learn about the experiences of people in Nazi Germany through a variety of firsthand accounts and identify the range of choices that they faced.

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Students learn about the violent pogroms of Kristallnacht by watching a short documentary and then reflecting on eyewitness testimonies. Students think about the responsibilities of governments as they consider how countries around the world responded to the European Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany. Students share their ideas about the writing prompt in groups and continue to build their evidence logs. Students are introduced to the enormity of the crimes committed during the Holocaust and look closely at stories of a few individuals who were targeted by Nazi brutality.

Students deepen their examination of human behavior during the Holocaust by analyzing and discussing the range of choices available to individuals, groups, and nations.

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Students grapple with the meaning of justice and the purpose of trials as they learn how the Allies responded to the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Students approach the unit writing prompt in its entirety through journal reflection, evidence, gathering, and discussion.

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Students both respond to and design Holocaust memorials as they consider the impact that memorials and monuments have on the way we think about history. Students complete activities that help them think about the unit as a whole as they prepare a strong thesis statement for their essay. Get Started 2. Introducing The Unit 3. Exploring Identity 4. Universe of Obligation 6.

Introduction to the Holocaust

The Concept of Race 7. The Roots and Impact of Antisemitism 8. The Weimar Republic The Rise of the Nazi Party Dismantling Democracy Do You Take the Oath? Laws and the National Community The Power of Propaganda Youth and the National Community Kristallnacht Responding to a Refugee Crisis Race and Space The Holocaust: Bearing Witness The Holocaust: The Range of Responses Justice and Judgment after the Holocaust How Should We Remember?

Choosing to Participate. Add or Edit Playlist. What was the Holocaust? Why is it important to confront the brutality of this history? What did it mean to resist the Nazis? What kinds of resistance were those targeted by the Nazis able to carry out? What is the meaning of human dignity?

How did the Nazis seek to deprive their victims of basic human dignity, and how did those targeted attempt to preserve or reclaim their dignity? Students will be able to explain the range of Nazi methods of mass murder, including the establishment of Jewish ghettos, mobile killing units, concentration camps, and killing centers. Students will bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, as well as extraordinary acts of resistance and efforts to preserve human dignity on the part of victims and survivors.

Preparing to Teach Emotionally Challenging Content In this lesson, students will encounter emotionally challenging content. Carefully consider each of these suggestions before engaging with this material with your students: Teachers know their students best. Preview each resource in this lesson before you share it with your students. Let students know in advance when they are about to encounter material that some may find upsetting.

If necessary, omit resources that you believe will be too disturbing for your students. Briefly review the class contract with students before beginning the lesson. This will help reinforce the norms you have established and reinforce the idea of the classroom as a safe space for students to voice concerns, questions, or emotions that may arise. Be prepared for a variety of responses from students. Students often react to the Holocaust with sadness, anger, or frustration, yet it is also the case that many students do not have an immediate public response to learning about the Holocaust.


Experience has taught us that it can take time before students are able and ready to make sense of this material. In the meantime, many students report that their journals provide a safe space where they can begin to process their emotions and ideas. Therefore, we recommend that students are invited to write in their journals at many points throughout this lesson.

Defining Terms The resources in this lesson refer to ghettos , concentration camps , and killing centers. It may be helpful to post simple definitions of each of these words in the room to help students understand and distinguish between them: Ghetto : a specific area of a city or town in which Jews were forced to live and often not permitted to leave.

Ghettos were overcrowded and deprived of sufficient food and other basic supplies. Concentration camp : a camp created to confine large numbers of prisoners including political opponents and those deemed racially inferior in harsh and unhealthy conditions. The reality of the Nazi ghetto and camp system is quite complex, as the Nazis operated more than 40, ghettos and camps that served a variety of purposes and varied in size and operation. But for this lesson, these three definitions will suffice.

Previewing Vocabulary In addition to ghetto, concentration camp , and killing center , the following are key vocabulary terms used in this lesson: Holocaust Shoah Resistance Spiritual resistance Dignity Genocide Add these words to your Word Wall , if you are using one for this unit, and provide necessary support to help students learn these words as you teach the lesson.

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We suggest having students read the poem aloud at least two times. After reading, ask students to respond to the following questions in their journals: What does this poem mean to you? What does this poem suggest it is like to learn about the Holocaust? What questions does the poem raise for you? Then ask students to share their responses to these prompts. Their questions about the poem can be recorded on the board so that they can be revisited at the end of the lesson, when students have greater familiarity with the Holocaust. Understand the Steps Leading to Mass Murder While the primary goal of this lesson is to provide students with the opportunity bear witness to some specific stories and experiences of individuals who lived or died during the Holocaust, it is first necessary to briefly give students a framework to understand what happened.

In the video Step by Step: Phases of the Holocaust , historian Doris Bergen divides the history of the Holocaust into four phases, described on the handout Phases of the Holocaust. Pass out the handout and give students a few moments to read through the information.

Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust

Reflect on a Range of Primary Sources In this activity, students will have the opportunity to work independently to reflect on and bear witness to a variety of stories and experiences during the Holocaust. First, students will watch a short video with testimony from a Holocaust survivor from the city of Vilna, Lithuania. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. How it works Blog Latest orders Top writers About us. Posted on May 18, What are the Nuremberg trials, and what are their consequences? Academic level:. View sample. Like any of these topics? Choose one of them and we will write a research paper for you.

How do people seriously deny the Holocaust?

Argumentative Holocaust Research Paper Topics

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