The Rise of Antisemitism

Subject: Social Studies

Grade Levels: 9 through 12


Sunshine State Standards:

View all Sunshine State Standards


All materials are available through the Florida Holocaust Museum; St. Petersburg, Florida.


  1. Invite a Rabbi or local volunteer to come to class to discuss some of the basic rituals and beliefs of Judaism.
  2. Create timelines depicting the major events of antisemitism. Ask students to list and discuss events leading to the persecution of the Jews.
  3. Discuss definitions of democracy, fascism, communism, and socialism. Have students list a few countries in which each of these ideologies existed during the Holocaust. As an additional activity, students can list countries in which each of these ideologies exists today.
  4. Summarize events that took place between World War I and World War II. Students should create a list of what they consider to be the major causes of World War II.
  5. As individuals or in groups, students should research the end of World War I and the Versailles Treaty. They should gather enough information to describe the economic, social, and political conditions in Germany from this time through 1933. With this information, students can crate a list that reflects how Germany was ripe for the National Socialist Worker’s Party (Nazi Party).
  6. Discuss conditions in Germany that made it possible for the German people to accept Hitler as their leader.
  7. View Hangman, or read the poem. Compare the Edmund Burke quote: "The only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good men to do nothing" to the video or poem.
  8. Have students explore possible answers to how Hitler exploited the existing anger and alienation of a large majority of Germans into hatred of the Jews.
  9. Discuss why Germans may not have acted when confronted with behavior they knew was wrong. How is not acting making a choice?
  10. Use discussion questions with Hangman to evoke responses.
  11. Read and discuss the Niemoeller quote. Compare and contrast to Nazi society and today.
  12. Watch The Wave. Draw parallels between what was seen in the video and what took place in Nazi Germany.
  13. Explain the relationship between the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and Kristallnacht in 1928.
  14. Describe the events that led to Kristallnacht and what actually took place on November 9 and 10, 1938.
  15. Compare the Bermuda Conference, held in April 1942 with the Evian Conference, held in July 1938. Explain factors that indicated that the Bermuda Conference was not really expected to address the problem of Jewish refugees. Students should consider what message this conference sent to the rest of the world about the importance of saving the Jewish people.
  16. Examine the lack of effective response of the world community to the plight of Jewish refugees.
  17. Investigate Kristallnacht--how did this event obtain its name? What precipitated the attack? Use Nazi documentation, in small groups answer questions about the evidence that the event was not spontaneous, what were the roles of stormtroopers, police, fire fighters, German citizens, and the result of Kristallnacht for Jews personally and as a community.
  18. Use Eisenberg readings, have class examine how Kristallnacht affected the lives of young Jewish people.
  19. Use primary source documents to research the responses from around the world.
  20. Why did the men that did the killing do what they did? Use video of the Millgram Experiment that is available for loan from Facing History and Ourselves. It will show how people continued to offer shock to others in an experiment, even though pain was being inflicted. The experiment shows how humans adhere to listening to authority. This experiment, known as the Millgram experiment, helps students begin to understand what happens when authority is blindly followed. This video will lead to much discussion and debate about when to follow authority and when to stop. Connections to the Nazi killings are not quite so simple, but many connections will be made.
  21. Have students give examples of how propaganda is used in the United States by: television advertisers, government, foreign government, political parties, parents, teachers and school administrators, neo-Nazi groups.
  22. Discuss the difficulties in refuting propaganda. What is rumor? How does it start? Why is it believed? Why does this belief often persist?

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida ©2000.

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