Image: Germans pass by the broken shop window of a Jewish-owned business that was destroyed during Kristallnacht. November 10, 1938, Berlin, Germany. Image courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Nazi ideology was racist. To critically analyze actions taken by Nazi Germany and its collaborators and to understand how and why the Holoaust happened, it is essential to understand the concept of racism, and particularly, Nazi racial antisemitism. (120 minutes. Lesson by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.)
Teachers may use the pdf of the original lesson (above) to support this Learning Management Systems.version of the Nazi Racism lesson. It is also available on
What are the consequences when governments use laws to create “in” groups and “out” groups in a society? How do laws affect the ways that individuals think about their own identities and the identities of others? How do laws affect the relationships between individuals in a society? In this lesson, students will examine the way the Nazis used laws to define who belonged to the “national community” and then separate those who did not belong. (50-minute class period. Lesson by Facing History and Ourselves.)
What happened on November 9 and 10, 1938? How can an examination of different sources documenting the event give us a more comprehensive picture of what actually happened? What do the variety of responses to Kristallnacht teach us about the ways that people often respond to episodes of violence and terror? What roles can people who are not targeted by violence and terror play in perpetuating or preventing injustice? This lesson asks students to consider the range of human behavior often observed in times of violence and terror and begin to see the impact that the choices of perpetrators, bystanders, and upstanders have on those around them. (50-minute class period. Lesson by Facing History and Ourselves.)
This series of lessons spotlights another group singled out by the Nazis during the Holocaust: Black people in Germany, also known as “Afro-Germans.” There were only 20,000 Black people living among a population of 65 million people in Germany in 1933. Yet, “German authorities routinely and viciously persecuted and discriminated against German residents of African descent,”--- planning for their eventual disappearance through a forced sterilization policy.
This activity focuses on the actions of ordinary people during Kristallnacht -- a turning point in the Holocaust during which Nazis terrorized German and Austrian Jews in a very public way. First, you will select a photograph and reflect on what it reveals about the event. Then you will review a short film, article, and map to learn more. With this information, you will listen to eyewitness testimony and take notes on how Kristallnacht affected the Jewish community as well as the various roles played by neighbors. Finally, you will re-examine the image you started with -- and reflect on the following: How did the actions of ordinary people shape the events of Kristallnacht? (1.5 Hours, Grades 9-12. Created by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation.)
Although different in many ways, the histories of racism and antisemitism in Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow America during the 1930s illuminate some universal phenomena that manifested during these distinct historical contexts. Both periods can trace part of their roots to the rise of a new “science” of eugenics, which became an international movement used to give legitimacy to racial policies. Racism, including racial antisemitism, was the core element of Nazi ideology and the driving force behind the Holocaust. Racism also legitimized the continued subjugation and persecution of African Americans long after the end of slavery. Studying these two histories together is neither meant to equate suffering nor gloss over the uniqueness of each historical period. Instead, it raises critical questions for students, educators, and communities today. Lesson plans and resources from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.