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Freedom to Worship | Freedom from Oppression | Freedom from Want | Freedom from Fear| Freedom to Create

Freedom from Oppression


In this lesson, students investigate instances of genocide both historical and current, and develop "magazine (or newspaper) pages" reporting on their research as well as stating opinions as to what the policy of the international community and United Nations should be regarding genocide.

Grade Level: 7-12

Subject Area(s): United States History; World History; Language Arts

Time Needed for Lesson: Approximately one week

Materials needed: Computer(s) with Internet access; word processing software; possibly publication software (such as Microsoft Publisher), possibly web page software (such as Dreamweaver or Front Page), possibly poster paper, scissors, glue. PDF Handout Reporting on Genocide


As a result of completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. More completely understand the plight of persons in history as well as current day who are victims of genocide.
  2. Develop opinions and strategies dealing with how the international community should deal with the genocide issue as well as ways that future genocide might be averted.
  3. Develop expository and persuasive writing skills.


This lesson meets the following national content standards established by Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)

United States History:

  • Understands the causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs
  • Understands the dimensions of Hitler's "final solution" and the Allies' response to the Holocaust and war crimes (e.g., human costs of Nazi genocide, Roosevelt's immigration policy toward Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany)
  • Understands President Roosevelt's ideas and policies during World War II (e.g., Roosevelt's administration's wartime diplomacy among the Allied powers, the ideas presented in his Four Freedoms speech)

World History:

  • Understands the influence of Nazism on European society and Jewish culture (e.g., European and Jewish resistance movements to the Nazis and their policies, discrepancies between Nazi public announcements concerning Jews and the actual experiences of Jews between 1941 and 1944)
  • Understands the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish culture and European society (e.g., the chronology of the Nazi "war on the Jews," and the geography and scale of Jewish deaths resulting from this policy; personal reasons for resistance to or compliance with Nazi policies and orders; the brutality of Nazi genocide in the Holocaust as revealed in personal stories of the victims)
  • Understands the rise of Nazism and how it was received by society (e.g., the essence and elements of Nazi ideology as represented in Mein Kampf and the Nazi party platform, and their use of terror against "enemies of the state"; the propaganda techniques employed by the Nazis to promote their ideas; political debate and opposition to the Nazi and Fascist movements in Germany and Italy in the 1920s and 1930s)

Language Arts:

  • Drafting and Revising: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., elaborates on a central idea; writes with attention to audience, word choice, sentence variation; uses paragraphs to develop separate ideas; produces multiple drafts)
  • Editing and Publishing: Uses strategies to edit and publish written work (e.g., edits for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling at a developmentally appropriate level; uses reference materials; considers page format [paragraphs, margins, indentations, titles]; selects presentation format according to purpose; incorporates photos, illustrations, charts, and graphs; uses available technology to compose and publish work)
  • Writes expository compositions (e.g., identifies and stays on the topic; develops the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations; excludes extraneous and inappropriate information; uses structures such as cause-and-effect, chronology, similarities and differences; uses several sources of information; provides a concluding statement)
  • Writes persuasive compositions that address problems/solutions or causes/effects (e.g., articulates a position through a thesis statement; anticipates and addresses counter arguments; backs up assertions using specific rhetorical devices [appeals to logic, appeals to emotion, uses personal anecdotes]; develops arguments using a variety of methods such as examples and details, commonly accepted beliefs, expert opinion, cause-and-effect reasoning, comparison-contrast reasoning)

Teaching Strategy:

Start the lesson by asking the students to brainstorm what their personal definition of the word "genocide." The teacher should write student definitions on the overhead or chalkboard. After students have had a reasonable amount of time to come up with definitions, the teacher may also wish to lead the class in a discussion about reasons why a national group or government might engage in a policy of genocide.

After the discussion, introduce the lesson to the students. In the lesson, students will role play reporters and editors who have been assigned to cover a special feature section on genocide in history, focusing on the Nazi Holocaust, as well as other historical and more current instances of genocide, including pictures, maps, and other pertinent information about historic or modern instances of genocide. In addition, students will highlight an editorial viewpoint about what steps the United States government and world community (the United Nations) should do to combat genocide.

Depending on the amount of technology available in the school, and the teacher's "comfort level" with technology, the teacher may elect to do one or more of the following:

  1. Have students develop "poster presentations" using poster board to simply paste stories created in word processing software on. Pictures can be Xeroxed from traditional sources of information or printed from web pages.
  2. If the teacher has access to software such as Microsoft Publisher, they may elect to actually have the students create pages using Publisher that can be printed.
  3. If the teacher desires, using software such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page, they may wish to publish the pages as web pages and have them available online. (Note: simple web pages can also be created with word processing software, Microsoft Publisher, or even in Windows Notepad.)

In addition, in planning the lesson, the teacher might also consider dividing the class into groups, with each group investigating instances of genocide in one specific area of the world, and another group looking at genocide by Nazi Germany. (See "Reporting on Genocide" Student Handout) Groups may also be created by the teacher to reflect class size, grade level, or other considerations.

From that point, allow students to conduct their own research as well as create their own layout for the pages.

Evaluation of Student Work:

The teacher may elect to evaluate the work in various ways, including historical accuracy, spelling and grammar, or possibly for the aesthetic quality of the page layout. The teacher might wish to assign a set amount of points to each category and then evaluate accordingly.

Extension Activities:

Ask the class to look at American response to the Nazi Holocaust. Ask them to develop "Point/Counterpoint" articles in which they critique President Franklin D. Roosevelt's policy regarding dealing with the situation, both before and after American entry into World War II.

Have students research the Nuremberg Trials in the post-World War II years. Ask them to debate whether trials of this type should be held as an international tribunal, or if they can be held in the nation where the "crimes against humanity" occurred.

Online Resources:

Destination America "Freedom From Fear" webpage (including a Real Video on the Holocaust)

Destination America "When Did They Come?" webpage

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Holocaust History Project Holocaust site

Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida College of Education)

America and the Holocaust

Armenian Genocide

Genocide Education Project

Facing History and Ourselves

The Great War

The Legacy Project

The Armenian National Institute (ANI)

The Forgotten

Cambodian Genocide

P.O.V.: The Flute Player

Cambodian Genocide Program

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Genocide Watch

Genocide in the Balkans

Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (Balkan resources)

University of Memphis and Pennsylvania State University (Altoona) Resources for Teaching and Research on Genocide

Nizkor Project "Other Instances of Genocide" page

Human Rights Watch International Justice in the Balkans page,20


Facing History and Ourselves

Anti-Defamation League

Committee on Conscience - General info on Darfur

Human Rights Watch Africa page


Frontline: The Triumph of Evil

CNN report on Rwandan genocide

BBC report on Rwandan genocide

African Rights

Freedom to Worship | Freedom from Oppression | Freedom from Want | Freedom from Fear| Freedom to Create

Sources: Destination America

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