Swiss Bank Accountability: Mock Trial

Subject: Social Studies

Grade Levels: 9 through 12


By using a variety of sources to construct a case defending and prosecuting the Swiss government for their role in Nazi gold transactions during World War II, students will practice research techniques, persuasive writing and speaking, and critical reading and listening skills.

Sunshine State Standards:

View all Sunshine State Standards



  1. Read the charges against the Swiss banks aloud to the class. Explain that the class will be conducting a mock trial to determine an answer to this question.
  2. Students should volunteer or be assigned to either the prosecution or the defense. It is recommended that the teacher or other adult acts as judge and the jury be comprised of students from another class.
  3. Once sides have been established, clearly set the ground rules for pre-trial and trial.
  4. Once ground rules are established, give students the evidence research sheet and grading rubric.
  5. Begin research and trial preparation.
  6. Teams should have the chance to meet with the teacher on an ongoing basis to submit evidence, ask questions, and request materials or equipment.
  7. Secure a location for the trial, audio/visual equipment if needed, and invite a jury to attend. In some instances classes have also invited local judges or lawyers from the bar association to act as advisors or judge for the trial.
  8. Hold the trial using the trial procedures as a guideline. It may also be helpful to allow jurors to keep notes using paper and pen. Once both sides have rested, the jury is to go to another location to deliberate. Each juror is to receive a ballot.
  9. When the jury has reached a verdict the class will reassemble. This may be the same or next day, or a few days later. The foreperson will read the verdict.
  10. Once the verdict is delivered, if it is possible, it's useful to have a question and answer session between the jury, prosecution, and defense. This gives students an opportunity to learn about strategy, reasoning behind presenting or not presenting evidence, questioning techniques, and questions the jury felt were left unanswered. This is not a traditional step in the trial process, but it is useful in a classroom setting where different viewpoints and learning styles are encouraged.
  11. All jurors should turn in their ballots and the class should have the opportunity to review them.
  12. Students are to complete an evaluation of the pre-trial, trial, group participation, as well as, their own participation.


By using the rubric presented at the beginning of the activity students can be given a group grade as well as an individual grade. It is also helpful to meet with both sides and discuss the trial from their perspectives and to take into account the student evaluations.

Research Guidelines and Requirements

To prove your case to a jury you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Swiss banks should/should not be held accountable for their part in the Nazi gold transactions. To do this your team must compile evidence to support your claim. Evidence can be collected from a number of sources including books, newspaper and magazine articles, internet sites, video footage, primary sources, and witness testimony.

Your team needs to gather this evidence, organize it, determine the best way to present it (expert witness, display, audio/visual, etc.) prepare the appropriate witnesses, and gather rebuttal evidence.


Evidence Presentation:

Juror Ballot

Now that you have heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence you need to reach a verdict. The jury needs to elect a foreperson that is in charge of the group. The evidence and testimony can be discussed, evidence can be asked for and examined, and votes can be taken at any point and as often as needed. In the case of this trial the jury must only reach a majority for a verdict.

Based on the case presented, should the Swiss banks be held accountable for their participation in the Nazi gold transactions?

____YES ____NO

Was there one statement, piece of evidence, or witness that persuaded your decision one way or the other? If so, please share it.


Additional input or questions: ___________________________________________


Student Evaluation

Name ______________________ Team _________________________

Team Position ________________________

How did you specifically contribute to your team’s work?


What do you believe was your team’s strength?


What do you believe was your team’s weakness?


What would you do differently next time?


Use the back for additional comments and information I should address.

Mock Trial Grading Rubric


Medium: ____ 0-2(0) ____3(1) ____4-6(2) ____7 or more(3)

Sources: ____0-9(0) ____10(1) ____11-15(2) ____16-20(3) ____21 or more(4)

Notecards: ____Format(0-2) ____Due date(0-2)

Bibliography: ____Format(0-2) ____Due date(0-2)

Testimony: ____Accuracy(0-5) ____Relevance(0-5) ____Preparation(0-5)

Evidence: ____Accuracy(0-5) ____Relevance(0-5)

Display: ____Relevance(0-3) ____Impact/use(0-3)


Preparation for trial: Was the team ready for trial? Were all team members prepared for their role and was evidence gathered? ____(0-10)

Cooperation and teamwork: Was the team able to mediate conflict, compromise, and work together to accomplish the common goal? ____(0-5)

Case presentation: Was a well organized and convincing case presented? ____(0-20)


Team contributor: Did the individual contribute to the team and work with other members to present the case? ____(0-5)

Role preparation: Did the individual have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and prepare adequately for them? Did the individual attend? ____(0-10)


Total: _____

Scale: 0-20 F

21-41 D

42-61 C

62-83 B

84-96 A

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.

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