Post-Viewing: Responding to Hate in Our Communities Today | Facing History & Ourselves
Overhead image of candlelight vigil.
Lesson

Post-Viewing: Responding to Hate in Our Communities Today

Students begin to relate Schindler's List to the contemporary world by examining recent stories of racial hatred in Charlottesville and Germany.

Subject

  • History

Grade

6–12

Language

English — US

Published

Overview

Overview

The lessons in this final section of the unit relate Schindler’s List to the contemporary world. In this lesson, students focus on outbreaks of racial hatred in cities and schools in the United States and Europe. Reflecting on the hatred that unites these stories, students will consider the legacies of Schindler’s List and the Holocaust and how they might strengthen their communities to combat the presence of bullying, prejudice, and hate. Students will think more concretely about ways to do so in the following lesson.

  • How does hatred persist today? How might our study of Schindler’s List help us recognize and respond to the persistence of hate in our communities?
  • 3 activities
  • 1 extension activity
  • 1 reading
  • 1 video

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

This lesson uses a brief clip from a film chronicling the August 2017 rally of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. To read more about the rally or to extend students’ learning on the topic, see Facing History’s two companion lesson plans, After Charlottesville: Contested History and the Fight Against Bigotry and After Charlottesville: Public Memory and the Contested Meaning of Monuments.

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Lesson Plans

Activities

Ask students to reflect on the following quote from Steven Spielberg, first in their journals and then as a class: “When the film initially came out, it made one of the most incomprehensible acts of humankind accessible. It didn’t make it understandable, but reachable to audiences to be able explore it, to be moved in such a way to want to stand against all hatred, and know it is real and what can shockingly happen in the 20th and now the 21st centuries if we are not vigilant.”How do you think Schindler’s List could serve as inspiration for people to stand against hatred? How has watching the film inspired you?

Below are two different approaches to exploring manifestations of hate, including racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism, in the United States and Europe in the twenty-first century.

  • For a focus on the United States, consider the following activities:
    • Show a clip from the Vice News Tonight video Charlottesville: Race and Terror (0:00 to 2:09). Preview the following questions with students before showing the video, and then ask them to respond in their journals after viewing the clip:
      • Who are the protestors? What are they doing and chanting?
      • Who are the counter-protesters? What are they doing and saying?
      • From the perspective of the protestors: Who is the “we” and who is the “they”? Based on their chants, what do they want? What do they fear?
    • After students have had enough time to jot down their answers to the questions, ask them to share using the Think, Pair, Share strategy. Take this opportunity to answer any questions or correct any misunderstandings students have about the events in Charlottesville.
    • The New York Times article Year After White Nationalist Rally, Charlottesville Is in Tug of War Over Its Soul examines a key debate that has gripped the community in Charlottesville: whether the rally was purely a product of outsiders or it revealed something deeper about the character of the community itself. Given the article’s length, you might use the Read Aloud or the Annotating and Paraphrasing Sources teaching strategy to promote students’ understanding of the ideas and arguments presented.
       
  • For a focus on Europe, consider the following activities:
    • Show the Time clip Violent Protests in Chemnitz about the violent protests in the German city of Chemnitz. Preview the following questions with students before showing the video, and then ask them to respond in their journals after viewing the clip:
      • Who are the protestors? What are they doing and chanting?
      • Who are the counter-protesters? What are they doing and saying?
      • From the perspective of the protestors: Who is the “we” and who is the “they”? Based on their chants, what do they want? What do they fear?
    • After students have had enough time to jot down their answers to the questions, ask volunteers to share, first in a Think, Pair, Share format and then as a class. Take this opportunity to answer any questions or correct any misunderstandings students have about the events in Chemnitz.
    • Share the Time article What to Know About Violent Anti-Migrant Protests in the German City of Chemnitz with students, which provides an overview of the context for the protests and what they mean for German society and politics. Again, you might use the Read Aloud or the Annotating and Paraphrasing Sources teaching strategy to promote students’ understanding of the ideas and arguments in the article.
    • After students have learned about the events in Charlottesville, Chemnitz, or both, ask them to discuss the following prompts in small groups using the Learn to Listen, Listen to Learn strategy:

      Wayne Inman, a former police chief who has investigated hate crimes, has said: “Hate crimes are not a police problem. They’re a community problem. Hate crimes and hate activity flourish only in communities that allow them to flourish.” James Pace, the head of a racist neo-Nazi group, agrees. He told a reporter, “If you have a racist problem, it was here and it’s been here and it’s going to be here if we are here or not.”

      What do these comments suggest about the presence of hate in communities like Charlottesville, Chemnitz, or elsewhere? What do they suggest about the importance of how a community defines who is a member of that community and who is not?

Finally, ask students to reflect in their journals on the presence of hatred and intolerance in their own communities. Use the following questions to guide their responses:

  • Have you noticed or heard about any acts of hatred and intolerance in your own community, school, or neighborhood?
  • How are the signs of hate in your community similar to or different from what you learned about in Charlottesville and Chemnitz?
  • How can individuals and communities respond to smaller acts of hatred and intolerance in a way that can help prevent them from growing into the kinds of violent events that occurred in Charlottesville and Chemnitz?

Extensions

Protestors in Charlottesville chanted “blood and soil” while marching through the streets. This chant has direct links to Nazi ideology. Watch the video Hitler's Ideology: Race, Land, and Conquest, in which scholar Doris Bergen explains the Nazi concept of “race and space,” which can help students understand the origins of the “blood and soil” chant.

Materials and Downloads

Resources from Other Organizations

The resources below provide additional guidance for addressing difficult topics in the classroom.

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