Unit

Teaching the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide: For California Educators

World History

Essential Question

How can learning about the choices people made during past episodes of injustice, mass violence, or genocide help guide our choices today?

Connections to California’s History-Social Science Curriculum Framework

This unit is designed for tenth-grade world history courses in California and helps teachers meet the state’s four pillars of social studies instruction—content, inquiry, literacy, and citizenship. The unit is designed to meet the California History-Social Science Framework adopted on July 14, 2016, including the teaching of the Armenian genocide per the Armenian Genocide Education Act (AB 1915). See the Get Started page for more information.

Introduction

This unit draws upon and adapts materials from the resource books Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians and Holocaust and Human Behavior, and it follows the Facing History 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 explore how such dynamics contributed to the rise of Turkish nationalism and the Armenian Genocide. Students then dive deep into a historical case study of the Weimar Republic and the Nazi Party’s rise to power in Germany. Then, they bear witness to the human suffering of the Holocaust and examine the range of responses from individuals and nations to the genocidal mass murder perpetrated by the Nazi regime. In the unit’s later lessons, students draw connections between this history and the present day, weighing such questions as 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.

Learning Goals

Students will:

  1. Recognize the human tendency to create “in” groups and “out” groups and the consequences of that behavior for a society’s universe of obligation.
  2. Understand the particular historical context for the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.
  3. Wrestle with the choices that individuals, groups, and nations made in response to the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, as well as the aspects of human behavior that contributed to those choices.
  4. 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.

Lessons and Assessments

Introduction
Holocaust

Get Started

Learn about this unit's alignment to California state standards and find other helpful information before you begin teaching.

Lesson 1 of 25
Holocaust

Introducing the Unit

Students develop a contract establishing a reflective classroom community as they prepare to explore the historical case study of this unit.

Lesson 2 of 25
Holocaust

Exploring Identity

Students identify the social and cultural factors that help shape our identities by analyzing firsthand reflections and creating personal identity charts.

Lesson 3 of 25
Holocaust

Stereotypes and "Single Stories"

Students create working definitions of stereotype as they examine the human behavior of applying categories to people and things.

Lesson 4 of 25
Holocaust

Universe of Obligation

Students learn a new concept, universe of obligation, and use it to analyze the ways that their society designates who is deserving of respect and caring.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 1:

Introducing and Dissecting the Writing Prompt

Students begin to understand and stake out a preliminary position in response to the assessment writing prompt.

Lesson 5 of 25
Antisemitism & Religious Intolerance

The Roots and Impact of Antisemitism

Students explore the long history of discrimination against Jews and come to understand how anti-Judaism was transformed into antisemitism in the nineteenth century.

Lesson 6 of 25
The Armenian Genocide

The Rise of Nationalism and the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire

Students turn their attention to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of a strong current of ethno-nationalism rooted in Turkish identity.

Lesson 7 of 25
The Armenian Genocide

Genocide under the Cover of War

Students learn about the events and choices of the Armenian Genocide and explore the consequences of the genocide from the perspective of survivors.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 2:

Introducing Evidence Logs

After learning about the Armenian Genocide, students reflect on the writing prompt a second time by adding a historical lense.

Lesson 8 of 25
The Armenian Genocide

Nationalism and the Aftermath of World War I

Students consider the ways in which World War I intensified people’s loyalty to their country and resentment toward others perceived as a threat.

Lesson 9 of 25
Holocaust

The Weimar Republic

Students reflect on the idea of democracy as they analyze the politics, economics, and culture of Germany during the period of the Weimar Republic.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 3:

Adding to Evidence Logs, 1 of 4

Students incorporate new evidence from the history of the Weimar era into the position they are developing.

Lesson 10 of 25
Holocaust

The Rise of the Nazi Party

Students examine how choices made by individuals and groups contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s and 1930s.

Lesson 11 of 25
Holocaust

European Jewish Life before World War II

Students analyze images and film that convey the richness of Jewish life across Europe at the time of the Nazis’ ascension to power.

Lesson 12 of 25
Holocaust

Dismantling Democracy

Students examine the steps the Nazis took to replace democracy with dictatorship and draw conclusions about the values and institutions that make democracy possible.

Lesson 13 of 25
Holocaust

Do You Take the Oath

Students consider the choices and reasoning of individual Germans who stayed quiet or spoke up during the first few years of Nazi rule.

Lesson 14 of 25
Holocaust

Laws and the National Community

Students are introduced to the Nazis’ idea of a “national community” and examine how the Nazis used the Nuremberg Laws to define who belonged.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 4:

Adding to Evidence Logs, 2 of 4

Students consider how what they've learned about the rise of the Nazi Party influences their thinking about the essay prompt and practice making inferences.

Lesson 15 of 25
Holocaust

Power of Propaganda

Students analyze several examples of Nazi propaganda and consider how the Nazis used media to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of individual Germans.

Lesson 16 of 25
Holocaust

Youth and the National Community

Students learn about the experiences of people in Nazi Germany through a variety of firsthand accounts and identify the range of choices that they faced.

Lesson 17 of 25
Holocaust

Kristallnacht

Students learn about the violent pogroms of Kristallnacht by watching a short documentary and then reflecting on eyewitness testimonies.

Lesson 18 of 25
Holocaust

Responding to a Refugee Crisis

Students think about the responsibilities of governments as they consider how countries around the world responded to the European Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany.

Lesson 19 of 25
Holocaust

Race and Space

Students examine the Nazi ideology of “race and space” and the role it played in Germany’s aggression toward other nations, groups, and individuals.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 5:

Adding to Evidence Logs, 3 of 4

Students review the documents and videos from previous lessons and consider what information supports, expands, or challenges their thinking about the essay.

Lesson 20 of 25
Holocaust

The Holocaust: Bearing Witness

Students are introduced to the enormity of the crimes committed during the Holocaust and look closely at stories of a few individuals who were targeted by Nazi brutality.

Lesson 21 of 25
Holocaust

The Holocaust: Range of Responses

Students deepen their examination of human behavior during the Holocaust by analyzing and discussing the range of choices available to individuals, groups, and nations.

Lesson 22 of 25
Holocaust

Justice and Judgment after the Holocaust

Students grapple with the meaning of justice and the purpose of trials as they learn how the Allies responded to the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 6:

Adding to Evidence Logs, 4 of 4

Students reflect on, gather evidence for, and discuss the unit writing prompt in its entirety.

Lesson 23 of 25
The Armenian Genocide

Confronting Genocide Denial

Students explore some of the causes and consequences of denying the Armenian Genocide and reflect on the role of public art to commemorate difficult histories.

Lesson 24 of 25
The Armenian Genocide

Survivor Testimony and the Legacy of Memory

Students deepen their thinking about memory and identity by reflecting on the stories of Holocaust and Armenian Genocide survivors and their descendants.

Lesson 25 of 25
Holocaust

Choosing to Participate

Students use the “levers of power” framework to identify ways they can bring about positive change in their communities.

Final Assessment

Topic

Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide
Step 7:

Refining the Thesis and Finalizing Evidence Logs

Students reflect on the unit as a whole and begin to write a strong thesis statement for their essay.

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