A Guide to Teaching About the Holocaust: Lesson Plans

teachers

These lesson plans can help you teach your students about different aspects of the Holocaust, including Kristallnacht, concentration camps and the Nuremberg Trials.

Holocaust Teacher Resources

The below lesson plans were created by subject-matter experts and can support your lessons about the Holocaust. The lesson plans take anywhere from 30 minutes to one and a half hours.

Holocaust Lesson Plan

Instructions

  • Begin the lesson by asking students to tell you what they know about the Holocaust. Write key ideas on the board.
  • Play the Study.com video lesson The Holocaust: Anti-Semitism and Genocide in Nazi Germany, pausing at 1:52.
  • Revisit the list of key facts posted on the board. Were the students on target with the information they provided about the Holocaust? If not, fill in any missing points now as a class.
  • Pass out the maps showing the locations of the Nazi concentration camps, one per student.
  • Display the images from the concentration camps to the class as you read some of the quotes from actual prisoners aloud. Ask students for their reactions.
  • Play the reminder of the video lesson.
  • Ask the students to consider the magnitude of this event. How could the Nazis have gotten away with it? Why wasn't there more resistance from the citizens as to the atrocities that were taking place? Discuss this as a class.
  • Read some of the Nazi propaganda about the Jewish citizens to the class. What kinds of things were being said? Would they have taken this as fact if they were in the same situation? Why or why not?
  • Play a video clip of Nazi propaganda about the concentration camps for the class.
  • Ask students to consider what they might have felt as citizens reading and watching the propaganda. Would they have believed that the concentration camps were places for rehabilitation, rest and rejuvenation as the propaganda indicates? Why or why not?

A teacher talks to students about the Holocaust

Kristallnacht Lesson Plan

Instructions

  • Begin by asking students to discuss what they know about Nazis and discrimination against Jewish people.
  • Then explain that this lesson explores Kristallnacht, anti-Jewish riots that occurred in 1938.
  • Distribute the What Was Kristallnacht? - Definition, Facts, Date & Quotes lesson, select a volunteer to read 'Definition and Date' and 'Background: Nazi Discrimination of Jewish People', then start the following discussion:
    • Identify the two translations of Kristallnacht.
    • What prompted the Kristallnacht?
    • Describe the discrimination against Jews.
  • Now, choose another student to read 'The shooting of Ernst Vom Rath', then pose these discussion points:
    • Describe Jewish citizenship as it relates to the Nuremberg Laws.
    • Define asylum and discuss who was waiting for asylum and why.
    • Describe the circumstances surrounding Ernst Vom Rath's death.
  • Next, choose another student to read 'Nazi Reaction and 'Spontaneous Demonstration' and ask them to answer the following:
    • How did Hitler react to Ernst Vom Rath's death?
    • Explain the contents of the telegram crafted by Richard Heyrdich.
  • Now, select a student to read 'The Night of Broken Glass', then provide the following prompts:
    • Which groups participated in the riots and how were they undetectable?
    • Describe some of the group's harrowing assaults.
    • Quickly use smart technology to define and describe concentration camps.
    • How did Kristallnacht impact the Jewish business owners?
  • Now, ask students to read the 'Lesson Summary' independently.
  • Then distribute the lesson quiz. Students may work independently, in pairs or groups to answer the questions.
  • Afterward, review the answers.

Concentration Camps Lesson Plan

Instructions

  • Show pictures of the concentration camps to students. Ask them to turn and talk about how they would describe what they see in the photos. Explain that these are pictures of concentration camps. They are going to read about concentration camps in today's lesson.
  • Distribute copies of the Nazi Concentration Camps lesson. Tell students that they are going to follow along as you read it aloud.
  • Read the 'Types of Camps' section of the text. Ask:
    • How are labor, death, holding and transit camps similar?
    • How are labor, death, holding and transit camps different?
  • Read the 'Germany' section of the text. Distribute blank maps of Europe to students. Show students how to locate Germany on the map and ask them to label it. Ask:
    • What leader was responsible for the creation of concentration camps?
  • Read the 'Labor' section of the text. Explain to students that these are camps that were in Germany. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in Germany on their map.
  • Read the 'Holding Center' section of the text. Ask:
    • What was life like for Jews at Bergen-Belsen?
  • Read the 'Austria' section of the text. Show students how to locate Austria on the map and ask them to label it. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in Austria on their map. Ask:
    • What was a death march?
    • What country did the majority of deaths in concentration camps take place?
  • Read the 'Labor Camps' section of the text. Ask:
    • What was life like for Jews at labor camps?
  • Read the 'The Netherlands' section of the text. Show students how to locate the Netherlands on the map and ask them to label it. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in the Netherlands on their map. Ask:
    • Where would Jews most likely go after being in a concentration camp in the Netherlands?
  • Read the 'France' section of the text. Show students how to locate France on the map and ask them to label it. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in France on their map. Ask:
    • What kind of chamber was added at Natzweiler-Struthof? Why?
  • Read the 'Czechoslovakia' section of the text. Show students how to locate Czechoslovakia on the map and ask them to label it. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in Czechoslovakia on their map. Ask:
    • What was a ghetto?
  • Read the remainder of the text. Show students how to locate Ukraine and Latvia on the map and ask them to label it. Have students write the names of the concentration camps in Ukraine and Latvia on their map.
  • Answer any remaining questions, then distribute copies of the lesson quiz. Have students work independently to complete to demonstrate mastery.
  • Go over the answers as a class.

A student takes part in an online class

The Nuremberg Trials Lesson Plan

Warm Up

  • Divide students into small groups and ask them to discuss the following guiding questions:
    • Should we be able to try a person from another country for war crimes? Why?
    • Who is responsible for determining global laws of justice? Why?
    • Can justice ever truly be served when it comes to war crimes?
  • Walk around to listen in to conversations and add comments or guide.
  • Discuss students' answers as a whole class, allowing students to share their thoughts and feelings about the topic.

Instructions

  • Distribute copies of the text lesson The Nuremberg Trials: Definition, Purpose, Facts & Results.
  • Read the sections 'Background and Purpose' and 'Rules of the Trial' together and ask:
    • How many trials took place between 1945-1949?
    • Why were there this many trials?
    • What was the four-party coalition?
    • Why was there little precedence for the process of international war trials?
    • What were the four categories by which defendants were judged in the trials?
  • Ask students to read the remainder of the lesson silently, then meet back with their small groups.
  • Hand out to each group a different news article with each member of the group receiving their own copy of their group's news coverage article of the Nuremberg trials.
  • Have groups read and discuss the content. Each student should detail the who, what, where, and when of their group's article as well as the procedure and verdict of the trial.
  • Next popcorn students into new groups so one member of each former group is present. Ask students to share their article information.
  • Discuss as a whole group:
    • How did those in charge choose who to prosecute?
    • Were the trials fair?
    • Was justice served?
    • Why did some of the defendants think they were innocent? Do you think they were?
    • Did these trials set a precedent for international law?
  • Have students take the quiz to check understanding.

Additional Holocaust Teaching Resources

Here are some more lesson plans you can use with your students:

You can also access our other Holocaust teaching guides:

By Jessica Lyons
January 2021
teachers teacher resources

Never miss an update

Support