At a Glance
LanguageEnglish — US
- Social Studies
DurationTwo 50-min class periods
- The Holocaust
About This Lesson
This lesson complements the resources from Chapter 5 of Holocaust and Human Behavior to help students investigate the carefully crafted ideas and messages that Adolf Hitler included in his public statements in the first days of his tenure as German chancellor. By completing a close reading of Hitler’s first radio address after becoming chancellor, students will analyze the ways that he sought to portray the history that led up to his appointment as head of the German government as well as his vision for the future of the country under his leadership. By comparing Hitler’s speech to what they have learned about Hitler’s ideology and the Nazi Party’s platform in Chapter 4, students will analyze the choices Hitler made about what parts of the Nazi program to emphasize in his speech and what ideas to omit, and they will consider what those choices suggest about the Nazis’ sensitivity to public opinion and power to manipulate it.
- What made it possible for the Nazis to transform Germany into a dictatorship in their first years in power?
- What can a close reading of Hitler’s first radio address as chancellor reveal about how he carefully crafted his words to appeal to the German people?
- Students will be able to read and reread a text closely in order to deepen their comprehension, find answers to questions, and support claims with evidence.
- Students will know that in his first radio address as chancellor, Hitler described Germany as a country brought to ruin and chaos by Communists and the leaders of the Weimar Republic, and he declared that Nazi leadership would restore the country to its previous greatness within four years.
- Students will understand that political leaders carefully and strategically craft their communications to the public in order to help them achieve their goals.
This lesson is designed to fit into two 50-minute class period and includes:
- 3 activities
- 1 reading
Preparing to Teach
Tell or remind students that Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, to which previous chancellors had not successfully responded. Two days later, Hitler delivered his first speech to the entire country over the radio.
- You might ask students to review the Nazi Party platform in the reading Hard Times Return and jot down in their notebooks what themes, ideas, and proposals they think Hitler would want to emphasize in his first national address as chancellor, based on those ideals.
- Tell students that they will engage in a close reading of Hitler’s speech. This process involves reading and rereading the speech several times in order to gain a deeper understanding of it. Read Hitler’s First Radio Address aloud. Depending on the available time and the needs of your students, you might read it aloud twice; the first time you, the teacher, can read it, and the second time you can ask a student to read it. The Read Aloud teaching strategy offers other suggestions for reading a text aloud in class. As the speech is read aloud, students should circle unfamiliar words while they listen.
- After the read-aloud, as students share the unfamiliar words they circled with the class, decide which words to define immediately to limit confusion and which definitions you want students to uncover through careful reading.
Divide the class into small groups, and give each student a copy of the handout Close Reading Guide: Hitler’s Speech. In their groups, ask students to read the speech two more times. After each rereading, the groups should discuss and record responses to the corresponding set of questions on the handout.
Finally, organize a class discussion so that students can clarify any lingering questions from their group work and make connections beyond the text. Focus especially on the second grouping of questions on the handout.
Depending on the available time and the needs of your students, you might choose to provide additional structure for this discussion using the Socratic Seminar or Save the Last Word for Me teaching strategy.
How are you planning to use this resource?Tell Us More
Materials and Downloads
Was this resource useful?Tell us More
You might also be interested in…
Educator Resources for New England Holocaust Memorial
Explore the Partisans
Resistance during the Holocaust: An Exploration of the Jewish Partisans
Pre-Viewing: “Take This Giant Leap”: Preparing to Teach Schindler’s List
Children of Willesden Lane
Materials for Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior
Jewish History and Memory: Why Study the Past?
The Holocaust - The Range of Responses (UK)
How Should We Remember? (UK)
Introducing the Unit (UK)
Jewish Identity and the Complexities of Dual or Multiple Belongings
Jewish Life before the Holocaust
Unlimited Access to Learning. More Added Every Month.
Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.
Exploring ELA Text Selection with Julia Torres
Working for Justice, Equity and Civic Agency in Our Schools: A Conversation with Clint Smith
Centering Student Voices to Build Community and Agency