An Overview of the Holocaust: Topics to Teach
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has identified topic areas for you to consider while planning a course of study on the Holocaust. We recommend that you introduce your students to these topics even if you have limited time to teach about the Holocaust. An introduction to the topic areas is essential for providing students with a sense of the breadth of the history of the Holocaust.
World War II in Europe
Murder of the Disabled (Euthanasia Program)
Persecution and Murder of Jews
Mobile Killing Squads (Einsatzgruppen)
Expansion of the Concentration Camp System
Additional Victims of Nazi Persecution
Jewish Resistance and Non-Jewish Resistance
In addition to these core topic areas, we recommend that, in your courses, you provide context for the events of the Holocaust by including information about antisemitism, Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust, the aftermath of World War I, and the Nazi rise to power.
The Georgia Department of Education has endorsed the following educational materials:
- "Anne Frank in the World-1929-1945"- Classroom connections: Teachers Support Materials; A classroom companion workbook to the Anne Frank in the World Exhibit. The Workbook includes Anne Frank overviews, discussion starters, writing exercises, the stages of the Holocaust as well as information on ordering other free teaching materials.
- Don't Give Hate a Chance. Lessons in responsibility, respect, civil rights and the Holocaust produced by Georgia Commission on the Holocaust through a grant from the Fulton County Arts Council.
- "Prejudice and Hate: Georgians and the Holocaust", produced by The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust to provide historical background of the Holocaust, includes maps, glossary, an annotated bibliography and videography, frequently asked questions, as well as lesson plans.
- "Teacher to Teacher Video" - A one hour video featuring the talents of 8 Georgia High School and Middle School teachers. Teachers see 8 actual lesson plans, ranging in areas of study, that work in the classroom.
- "Holocaust, A Lesson for Generations" - A one hour video teleconference for teachers produced by The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and sponsored by The Georgia General Assembly. Moderated by Bill Nigut, TV political reporter, this informational program features three Georgia teachers presenting classroom activities, and William Parsons, Director of Education, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- "Prejudice and Hate: Georgians and the Holocaust" - An award winning video produced by The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. This historically accurate documentary features Holocaust Survivors, Liberators, and Children of Survivors, along with prominent Georgians such as Governor Zell Miller, President Jimmy Carter, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, sports and television celebrities. TV anchor personality Monica Kaufman narrates this 25 minute program for middle and high school students.
- "Inside the Department of Education - Holocaust Education in Georgia"- A one hour video teleconference produced by The Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Public Television. The video features teachers, supervisors, curriculum specialists, and commission members discussing the programs offered in the public schools. (Originally broadcast live to every school in the state)
- Why Teach about the Holocaust? United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). How do schools worldwide handle the Holocaust as a subject? In what areas of the world does the Holocaust form part of classroom teaching? Answers to these questions will be provided in late 2013 by a project conducted by UNESCO and the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research. For the first time it will be possible to compare representations of the Holocaust in school textbooks and national curricula. Holocaust Education exemplifies UNESCO’s vision of education as the starting point for building peace and nurturing the principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect of all men and women.
- Methodological Considerations, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). As a memorial museum, USHMM recommends grounding the history through the use of a variety of artifacts which are the evidence of what took place during the Holocaust. This approach also aids in meeting state and national teaching standards, which frequently endorse the use of primary sources.The teaching of Holocaust history demands of educators a high level of sensitivity and a keen awareness of the complexity of the subject matter. The following recommendations, while reflecting approaches that would be appropriate for effective teaching in general, are particularly relevant to Holocaust education.
- Five Guidlines for Teaching about a Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Teachers are strongly encouraged to review the ten Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust above. That commentary provides excellent teaching suggestions for the Holocaust and all historical periods. The guidelines below are five additional recommendations which bear special attention for teaching about genocide generally. The term "genocide" did not exist before 1944. It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Teachers are strongly encouraged to discuss the concept of genocide and its development since World War II as a background and foundation for their investigation of individual or multiple genocidal events. For more information on these topics, visit http://www.ushmm.org/conscience/history/.
- In the First Person: An index to letters, diaries, oral histories and personal narratives, Alexander Street Press LLC. Offers keyword searching of the letters, diaries, oral histories, and personal accounts of more than 18,000 individuals who lived from the 16th century to the present day. Includes audio and video testimonies and transcripts to interviews with Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.
- Learning Voices of the Holocuast, British Library. An online library of oral history testimonies created from interviews with survivors living in Britain. Provides a teacher's guide with materials for classroom activities. Also presents background on various aspects of Holocaust history, maps, a Holocaust chronology and a glossary, all aimed at students. Prepared by the British Library.
- Telling Their Stories: Oral Histories Archives Project, The Urban School of San Francisco. Presents text and video clips of oral history interviews with Holocaust survivors and liberators, as well as Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in relocation camps in Utah and Wyoming during World War II. A project of the Urban School of San Francisco.
- Testimonies (The Holocaust Resource Center), Yad Vashem. The Holocaust Resource Center provides you with easy access to in-depth information about the Holocaust. It can help you integrating the info you already have. The Center has a large collection of sources from the Yad Vashem Archives, including various kinds of original Holocaust-era documentation provided in English including letters and diaries written by Jews during the Holocaust, numerous photographs and original documents. The Holocaust Resource Center serves as a repository for the collection of the testimonies of Holocaust survivors that have been collected at Yad Vashem over the years, as well as excerpts frommemoirs written by survivors after the war. The Resource Center supports this collection of primary sources with excerpts fromresearch studies, as well as, works of art, and historical maps and charts and a collection of artifacts from Yad Vashem's museum collection.
- The Voices of Survivors, Yad Vashem. Throughout our website the voices of the survivors infuse our online exhibitions, historical narratives, teaching units and ceremonies with content and with meaning. We have gathered many of those testimonies in this section where they can be easily accessed by either topic or location. This section will continue to grow as more and more testimonies are added to the website.
- Documents (The Holocaust Resource Center), Yad Vashem. This category includes some of the most important documents on the Holocausst such as instructions and orders, official correspondence, speeches, press clippings, reports. In other words, here you will find a variety of written sources from the Holocaust period that are not personal documents (diaries, personal letters, etc.).
- Photographs (The Holocaust Resource Center), Yad Vashem. In recognition of the importance of photographs documenting the Holocaust, the Yad Vashem Archives collects photographs and has set up a separate archive containing hundreds of thousands of photographs and films. Here you can see a large selection of photographs from these archives.
- Artifacts (The Holocaust Resource Center), Yad Vashem. Prison uniforms, yellow badges, ration cards from the Ghetto – articles silently telling the tale of the Holocaust. Yad Vashem has amassed thousands of such articles. Many of these articles have been donated by survivors who have preserved them throughout their lives – through the Holocaust and thereafter. Many of the other objects that have become part of the collection are items left behind by victims of the Holocaust as, for example, the property abandoned by the Jews of Italy on the eve of their deportation. The display at the Holocaust Resource Center contains selected articles from this collection.
- The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Organized by theme, this site uses text, historical photographs, maps, images of artifacts, and audio clips to provide an overview of the Holocaust. It is the first step in a growing resource for middle and secondary level students and teachers, with content that reflects the history as it is presented in the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition, The Holocaust.
- Gates - Main Topics (The Holocaust Resource Center), Yad Vashem. Posted on the homepage of the Resource Center are thirteen main topics, referred to as "Gates." Upon entering a gate you will find an introduction to the topic and links to various additional sources on the subject. Here you can limit your search by selecting one of the sections within the gate. Once inside a section, you will be offered an introductory summary and links to the relevant items which would be found at the bottom of the page. You can also access the sources in the Resource Center by selecting types of sources(e.g., photographs) or any of a 130 keywords. To refine your search, you can combine these three search methods.