This unit consists of 23 lessons and an assessment designed to lead middle or high school students through an examination of the catastrophic period in the twentieth century when Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews and millions of other civilians, in the midst of the most destructive war in human history.
It draws upon and adapts resources from the book Holocaust and Human Behavior and its related media collection, and it follows the Facing History and Ourselves scope and sequence. Students begin with an examination of the relationship between the individual and society, reflect on the way humans divide themselves into “in” groups and “out” groups, and dive deep into a case study of the Weimar Republic and the Nazi Party’s rise to power in Germany. Students then bear witness to the human suffering of the Holocaust and examine the range of responses from individuals and nations to the genocidal mass murder of the Nazi regime. In the unit’s later lessons, students draw connections between this history and the present day, weighing questions like how to achieve justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of atrocities, how painful histories should be remembered, and how this history educates us about our responsibilities in the world today.
- Recognize the human tendency to create “in” groups and “out” groups and the consequences of that behavior for a society’s universe of obligation.
- Understand the particular historical context in which the Nazi Party established a dictatorship in Germany, marginalized Jews and other minority groups within German society, and ultimately committed genocide under the cover of war.
- Wrestle with the choices that individuals, groups, and nations made in response to the Nazi dictatorship and the violence and terror it caused, as well as the aspects of human behavior that contributed to those choices.
- Make connections between universal themes related to democracy, citizenship, racism, and antisemitism that this history raises and the world they live in today. Understand their responsibilities as citizens of the world to make choices that help bring about a more human, just, and compassionate world.