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Teaching Materials on the Holocaust

Foundational Holocaust Lesson Plans for Teaching Students

These Holocaust lesson plans introduce key concepts and information to middle school and high school students. Grounded in historical context, the lessons utilize primary source materials from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s collections.

Introduction to the Holocaust 

This one-day lesson provides an introduction to the Holocaust by defining the term and highlighting the story of one Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann.

Overview of the Holocaust 

This Holocaust lesson plan for middle school and high school students is designed as both a two-day and four-day unit. In both versions, students analyze how and why the Nazis and their collaborators persecuted and murdered Jews as well as other people targeted in the era of the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945.

Holocaust Articles for Students

The following related articles contain critical learning questions that can be used when discussing article content with students.

The Path to Nazi Genocide Discussion Questions 

Organized around a Museum-produced 38-minute Documentary, The Path to Nazi Genocide, these discussion questions provide students with an introduction to the history of the Holocaust. 

Holocaust Timeline Activity 

This lesson is structured around a multi-layered wall timeline that encourages critical thinking about the relationship between Nazi policy, World War II, historical events, and individual experiences during the Holocaust.

Connecting the Timeline Activity to The Path to Nazi Genocide 

Building upon the Timeline Activity and The Path to Nazi Genocide film, this lesson helps students analyze and think critically about the impact of state-sponsored antisemitism and the intersections of World War II.

Definition of the Holocaust Activity

One of the Museum’s guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust is to define the term “Holocaust.” This short activity helps students understand the definition of the term.

History of Antisemitism and the Holocaust 

This lesson focuses on the history of antisemitism and its role in the Holocaust to better understand how prejudice and hate speech can contribute to violence, mass atrocity, and genocide. Learning about the origins of hatred and prejudice encourages students to think critically about antisemitism today.

How to Select Teaching Resources

Nazi Racism 

Racism fueled Nazi ideology and politics. To critically analyze actions taken by Nazi Germany and its collaborators requires an understanding of the concept of racism in general and Nazi racial antisemitism in particular.

Pre-World War II Jewish Life 

In order to better understand what Jewish cultural and communal life was like in Europe before World War II, students search the Museum’s digital archive collections, select photographs depicting pre-war Jewish life in Europe, analyze them, and research the town(s) where the photos were taken.

Teaching with Holocaust Survivor Testimony

Students will examine Holocaust survivor testimonies as both personal memories and as deliberately-created historical records, and will evaluate how the Holocaust affected the lives of individuals, as well as the role of memory in our understanding of history.