Eleventh Grade Social Studies Unit

Grade Level: Eleventh Grade


Sunshine State Standards:

View all Sunshine State Standards


Day One




  1. Ask students about the way in which infants and small children learn social behavior. (By following modes and models of behavior around them). Ask some of the positive and negative features of learning human behavior in this way. Is human behavior consistent in all societies? Tell students that prejudice is learned, not inherited; there are no genes or chromosomes of prejudice. People can be prejudiced against anything-even bathtubs with legs. A child learns his prejudices from his surroundings, his environment, the total situation in which he happens to live.

  2. The sociologist Gordon Allport has described a kind of ladder of "negative actions" that spring from prejudice. The teacher might want to place these "rungs" on the board and ask students for examples of each.

    • spoken abuse--verbal attacks, "jokes", rumors, degrading name calling, degrading music and songs

    • avoidance--overt contact with individual members of a group, boycotting

    • discrimination--institutionalization of laws to keep groups legally inferior

    • physical attacks on people and property--gang warfare, defacing buildings, frightening and intimidating victims (burning crosses, painting signs, inciting riots, bashing)

    • genocide/extermination--lynching, massacring, killing members of the unwanted group

  3. The teacher might want to show the video, Shadows between Friends, a video which recounts the experiences of two high school students, a Chicano and an Anglo. Students should discuss applications to their own lives and draw parallels.

  4. The teacher should explain that prejudice behavior is not a modern invention; history has recorded prejudice almost as long as there has been recorded history. Our American fore-fathers brought their prejudices with them when they came from Europe, and other hotbeds were added through the past two hundred years. Ask students to recall from their previous studies groups which had encountered prejudice in European history. (Students might list Jews, Huguenots, Protestants vs. Catholics, the Spanish Inquisition, the Irish vs. the English, etc.).

Optional Day Two




  1. Divide the class into seven groups, and assign each group to read the appropriate excerpt from Us and Them. These are available from the center or a teacher might prefer to contact Teaching Tolerance 400 Washington Ave. Montgomery, AL 36104, Fax (334)264-3121 for the free video and publication. Student groups will be assigned to readings on 1) Mary Dyer, 2) Cherokee Indians, 3) Mormons, 4) Black slavery, 5) Irish, 6) Chinese, and 7) Sioux Indians. After reading the pertinent background material, a recorder and a spokesperson should be selected who will then report back to the class regarding

    1. What was the nature of the intolerance experienced?
    2. What kinds of issues and attitudes caused the intolerance discussed in your reading?
    3. How does this intolerance violate the founding principles of our country?
    4. Is this type of intolerance a problem for any group in modern America?
    5. What possible options might the perpetrator have employed rather than discriminating against the victim?
    6. What could the victim group have done?

  2. Students should be asked to draw some general conclusions as to the nature of intolerance prior to the twentieth century.
  3. The teacher should explain that with the turn of the 20th century ethnic prejudice did not disappear. Ethnocultural biases grew; anti-immigrant fears expanded as did suspicion of Jews and Catholics. There was nothing that could persuade Americans to adopt a more cosmopolitan outlook on ethnic diversity. Explain that the class will now look at specific examples of how America responded in the early 20th century. A real problem is there is no dissonance between education and hatred.

Day Two




  1. If the teacher has not chosen Optional Day Two, he/she should elicit from students examples in American History of prejudice and discrimination that have been encountered during the year's study. Students should discuss 1)the underlying issues and attitudes that brought about the example, and 2)how these examples of intolerance violate the founding principles of America.

  2. Students should be asked the meaning of the term antisemitism and why it is a misnomer. The teacher should explain that the term was coined by German journalist Wilhelm Marr in the 1870's, and it relates not to hatred of all semites but specifically to Jews while excluding Arabs who are also semites. Bias against Jews outdates Marr. Jews have been accused of the characteristics of solidarity, exclusiveness, and superiority. In a society that systematically discriminated against Jews, Jewish solidarity was necessary both from a physical and psychological point of view. Furthermore, common antisemitic beliefs are contradictory; Jews are seen as clannish yet at the same time trying to push themselves into "where they are not wanted." Jews are viewed as considering themselves as superior since they are God's chosen people; yet, they are seen as doing anything unscrupulous or guileless to gain control. Jews are seen as powerless yet trying to control the world.

  3. Elicit information about the treatment of Jews in America. Explain that at the outset of the colonial experience, Jews were excluded as were other religious groups from participating fully in society. Peter Stuyvesant bitterly opposed a Jewish presence in New Amsterdam and wrote to the Dutch East Indies Company in hopes of keeping Jews out of New York. However, it was only when large numbers of Jews began to arrive here during the 19th and early 20th centuries that "bigotry and the rejection of cultural and religious differences combined to lay the foundation for a pervasive antisemitism that became a national, well-entrenched phenomenon. Social discrimination preceded economic restrictions." (Quinley and Glock, Antisemitism in America, viii).

  4. Jews have been excluded historically since they were considered renegades from Christianity and the crucifiers of Christ. Ask students to explain the contradictions/misinformation contained in these beliefs. The teacher should reconfirm that Christ was a Jew, that the Romans crucified Jesus, and that while Jews do not accept Jesus as their Savior, Christian beliefs are based upon Judaism's Ten Commandments and the Jewish Bible. In the Fourth Century, Church law became civil law when the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire. In modern times antisemitism made a leap from religious hostility to racial antisemitism, excluding Jews from economic life and social status. There are many forms of antisemitism: religious, political, secular, economic, and racial.

  5. Students should read The Ballad of Leo Frank, discuss and answer the questions. Assign student groups the task of representing the editorial board of a local newspaper at the time of the Frank case, and write an editorial about the case, intolerance, or an aspect of the case about which they consider important to comment. This also affords the teacher the opportunity to direct student attention to the function of the editorial in a participatory democracy.

  6. The teacher might want to show an excerpt from the video The Murder of Mary Phegan, which depicts the Leo Frank story. The end of the video is particularly effective in demonstrating the vitriolic way in which Americans reacted to antisemitism.

Day Three




  1. Students will read the handout dealing with the events surrounding the Armenian Genocide. Partners will read, analyze, and answer the questions pertaining to the eyewitness accounts, and the class will discuss their findings. Students should be guided to assess:

    1. the Ottoman Empire's policy toward minorities
    2. the effects of the Armenian Genocide on the Turks as well as the Armenians

  2. The class will focus on the reaction of European powers and the United States after they have read The Aftermath. They will then be asked to assess:

    1. the rescue efforts and involvement of the world community and the United States in particular
    2. what role could the United States have played in the affairs of Turkey? Should America have accepted a League of Nations mandate over this area?
    3. whether the Armenian Genocide set a precedent which led Hitler to believe that he would not be held responsible for his own behavior.

  3. The students will view the film The Forgotten Genocide, which documents the Armenian Genocide with historic photos and film footage.

  4. Students should be asked to comment in writing about the validity of Hitler's boast on the eve of the invasion of Poland.
    I have placed my death-head formations in readiness . . .with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?

    Should America place more effort into remembering what happened to the Armenians? Should we risk our relationship with Turkey over this issue? If so, why?
Day Four




  1. Students will be grouped into units of three. Each student will be assigned to investigate the background either of Coughlin, Ford, or Lindbergh. The media center should be used for part of the class period or selected resources should be brought to the classroom. Students will be told to find out why each individual was prominent.

  2. The group members should read the clippings and list antisemitic beliefs they find revealed in the words of these prominent individuals. They should also look for trends they see running through the articles. How would they imagine these speeches would have been regarded by the American public? What role do prominent individuals play in helping to shape public opinion? Does this hold true today? Ask for unusual or unexpected beliefs held by prominent persons (i.e., Louis Farrakhan, Pat Buchanan) which are shaping beliefs today?

  3. The groups will share the results of their research and discussion. The class should try to reach a consensus on the power of prominent figures in shaping public opinion.

Homework: The Abandonment of the Jews, p. 3-15

Day Five



  1. Discuss the statistics provided in Abandonment (p.14) with regard to the beliefs of the American public about Jews in the 1930's and early 1940's. Ask students to characterize American society along a continuum from tolerant to intolerant with regard to immigrants, to blacks, native Americans, and Jews. Why were Jews less desirable than other immigrants? What were the arguments used by restrictionists? Discuss the validity of Wyman's argument that unemployment, nativistic nationalism, and antisemitism generated resistance to immigration.
  2. Without identifying the source, read the quote from Gerald B. Wainwright, the leader of the Defenders of the Christian Faith, to the class.

    The names appearing on the places of business, the condition of the shop windows, the babble of foreign tongues, the language used on the signs in public places, the filth of the streets, the greasy lives of the people, the utter disregard for American standards of morality, the flagrant violation of the Christian Sabbath. The whole atmosphere of these great unassimilated sections of foreign population is such as to cause serious concern. Paper Walls, p.10-11

    Messmore Kendall, president of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution referred to "the horde of illegal entrants or aliens who have seeped across our borders." Paper Walls, p.13. Ask students when they think these statements were written? Is there much difference from what is in today's newspaper? Draw a parallel with today. How many of the same forces are at work in America with regard to Cubans? Haitians? Mexicans? Vietnamese? Are there any immigrant groups which are welcomed? If so, why? A teacher might assign students to look for articles, editorials, and letters to the editor from the past three years dealing with the same issues with regard to immigration and assign a written reaction paper.

Homework: Students should be assigned additional reading in The Abandonment of the Jews

Day Six




  1. The teacher might show Section 1 of the video America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference. Excerpts from Teacher's Guide are provided for reference.

  2. Discuss some of the reasons suggested for FDR proposing the Evian Conference. What did he have to lose by doing so? To gain? This discussion allows the teacher the opportunity to discuss the legitimate impact of revision in writing history and the exclusion of Holocaust deniers.

  3. Who were the attendees at the Evian Conference? What were the motives of Poland and Rumania? What problems existed among Jewish groups? What were the positions of Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.?

  4. Have student groups assess the lack of success of the Evian Conference. What message did it send to Germany? To European Jews?

  5. Discuss the reaction to Kristallnacht in private and public arenas. What was the "official" reaction of the U.S. government? How did those who previously opposed enlarged quotas react to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis?

Homework: Have students read and list the provisions of the Wayne-Rogers Bill and summarize the point of view of the articles from the Miami Herald.

Day Seven




  1. Inform students that the Wayne-Rogers Bill was not the only immigration bill introduced in 1939; other bills died in committee. Divide the class into small groups to discover who supported and who opposed this bill. Why? What was the outcome of the Wayne-Rogers Bill? The groups should also investigate present U.S. immigration policy. Half the period should be spent in the research process.

  2. The balance of the class period should be spent discussing what students discovered. What does this bill suggest about antisemitism and apathy toward Jewish refugees? What are the implications for today's immigrants?

  3. Elicit student reaction to the coverage of the 1939 Miami Herald to the St. Louis event, immigration in general, and to Jews specifically. Does this point of view seem characteristic of Florida? The United States in general? What most surprised them about the newspaper's coverage? What can they generalize from the letters to the editor and editorials? What would they have expected to read and what was not present? Students should be informed that the excerpts include all editorials and Letters to the Editor on this subject. This indicates a lack of interest in the plight of Jews on the part of local residents. The teacher should make students aware that few passengers survived the war; individuals who went to Holland, France, or Belgium were caught in the Nazi net of death with the outbreak of war.

  4. The teacher might show Section 2 from the video, America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference. The relevant sections from the teacher's guide are excerpted.

Days Eight and Nine




  1. The class will be divided into groups of three to five; each will use the media center, Internet resource sites, SIRS Researcher, and outside reading materials to determine:

    1. When and how did Roosevelt learn about the purpose and existence of the death camps?

    2. What actions might he have taken? What were the political costs of his choices?

    3. Upon what was the determination made not to bomb Auschwitz? How was this decision made? Does the evidence as presented justify such a decision?

    4. As Commander-In-Chief, was F.D.R.'s insistence that the way to help Jews was by defeating the Nazi regime a valid interpretation of information presented to him?

    5. Since this is an issue of morality, either one is in favor of genocide or against it, what decisions could have been made which were moral?

    Students should be encouraged to use the articles included in this packet as well as other materials which they can locate in the media center.

  2. The teacher might show Sections 3 and 4 from the video America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference. The relevant sections are excerpted from the teacher's guide.

  3. Each group should respond to the above questions. Students base their answers on evidence which they should cite in their answer.

Homework: Readings: "The Response of the American Soldier", "The Anguish of Liberation", and "Aftermath: The Survivors."

Days Ten and Eleven




  1. Have students examine the statistics pertaining to the death toll from the war and consider whether the figures given about Jews who died is accurate. The class might discuss the Nazi practice of record keeping as well as the documentation now emerging from eastern Europe.

  2. Tell students that according to historian Henry R. Huttenbach, Allied soldiers were not informed of the task of freeing Nazi concentration camps; in fact, field maps did not include locations of the camps. He writes, "Nowhere can one find the liberation of the camps as part of the assignment of the military. . . The liberation, at best, was a byproduct of the military success in liberating Europe, never an intended result of strategic military planning." (Dimensions, Vol 9, number 1, p. G9)

  3. If they have not done so for homework, have the students read "The Response of the American Soldiers" from Liberation as well as the reading by Crawford, Collins, and other readings from "The Liberators." Discuss the reactions of the Americans at the time they encountered the camp and its victims. How were the camps a different experience for the soldier than what he had faced in battle? How did he react to Nazi soldiers? Civilians? Why were many liberators reluctant to speak about what they had seen, while others felt compelled to do so? What role might the liberators play in refuting the deniers of the Holocaust? What information would you need to assess the believability of towns people's claims that they were ignorant of what was taking place at the camps?

  4. If they have not done so for homework, have students read "The Anguish of Liberation" and "Aftermath: The Survivors" as well as the readings by Meed, Cohen and Strochlitz. What were the reactions to being liberated? What problems did the survivor face? What attitudes did they have toward the Nazis? The German people? Why did they fear for their future? What were the distinct problems faced by younger survivors? What problems did women have that were unique to their gender? What about men? Why were many survivors reluctant to speak about their experiences, while others felt compelled to do so?

  5. How do the responses of the survivor and soldiers differ? How are they alike? What do you see as the role of the survivor and liberator today? Do you agree or disagree with Elie Wiesel who wrote "We are. . . a fraternity, a human community dedicated to the ideal that after all there must be more in man to be admired than to be despised. In spite of everything, we must go on believing in that and in each other." Why?

Homework: Readings Chesnoff, The Beginning of Redemption

Day Twelve




  1. A Holocaust survivor and an Allied soldier who witnessed the camps should be invited into the class to discuss their personal stories. This should be videotaped so that the school can build up a library of testimony.

  2. Students should be assigned an essay on the role of the bystander. Students should discuss whether the United States shares the guilt for the Holocaust since she remained a bystander for much of the war. Students should back their position with excerpts from the readings and research used in this unit.

Homework: Readings: Listed above in materials

Day Thirteen




  1. Discuss traits possessed by those who are prone to the lure of hate groups and the reasons behind their vulnerability.

  2. What needs to be done to discourage American youth from gravitating to New-Nazi organizations?

  3. Place the quote from George Will on the board and have students discuss the methods used by deniers.

    "Holocaust deniers play upon contemporary society's tendency toward historical amnesia, and its fuzzy notion of ‘tolerance' that cannot distinguish between an open mind and an empty mind. . . When in doubt, doubt." (Holocaust and Human Behavior, Facing History and Ourselves, p. 494)

  4. Historians such as Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust, feel that a forum should not be given to Holocaust deniers since this gives them a chance to air their point of view. Have small groups of students explicate why one does not debate murder with a murderer.

  5. Show selected portions of the video Skokie; ask students to discuss whether they would have allowed the Nazis to march? What parallels are there with what is happening today?

  6. Students should also discuss whether there should be censorship on the Internet. Students should be encouraged to examine the conflict between the First Amendment and the rights of the individual to be protected from harm. The teacher might assign an essay on this topic.
Submitted by:

Florida Atlantic University, Holocaust Outreach Center

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.

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