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Berga: Soldiers of Another War
Stories of Berga What Would You Do? Timeline & Maps Berga and Beyond War Crimes
For Teachers
Intro Overview Lesson Plan 1 Lesson Plan 2 Tips Teacher Resources

background procedures for teachers organizers for students

Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson


The teacher will need to do the following before beginning this lesson.


Review the online materials from the Web sites bookmarked below. If necessary, print out and photocopy student copies of the online material.

Media Components

Video Resources:
Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows¨ 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.

Bookmarked sites:
TIP: Prior to teaching, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson and create a word processing document listing all the links. Preview all Web sites and videos before presenting them to your class.

Berga: Soldiers of Another War
This companion Web site to the documentary film features in-depth profiles of Berga survivors, maps, timelines, and other interactive features and resources that bring the Berga story to life.

Berga (Jewish Virtual Library, American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise)
A collections of articles, interviews and photographs relating to the Berga prison camp.

Speech and Silence: Poetry and the Holocaust (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Audio files of the April 9, 2000 program, including speeches and poetry. The site also includes an annotated bibliography on Holocaust poetry.


Introductory Activity:
(one-half a class period) 1. The political philosopher Theodor Adorno, who fled Nazi Germany during the 1930s, later remarked that "to write poetry after the Holocaust is barbaric." Write Adorno's quotation on the blackboard and discuss with your students.

  • What do you think Adorno meant by this statement? Do you agree with him?
  • How might telling stories or writing poetry about the Holocaust be seen as empowering?
  • What special problems or considerations arise when writing about or representing the Holocaust?
Learning Activities:

Activity One
(one class period)

1. Have your students view BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR. Before beginning, distribute copies of the Viewing Questions [link to organizer] (also listed below.) Students should be encouraged to consider these questions and take careful notes as they view the documentary.

  • How might you divide Guggenheim's documentary into specific sections? (i.e., "Taken as prisoners of war"; "Stalag IX-B"; "Berga"; "Forced March"; "Afterwards")
  • What sort of details are presented in the story? How do these details make the documentary more powerful?
  • Record the specific instances of prejudice which occur in the documentary.
  • How is foreshadowing used in the story? In other words, what kinds of incidents are told about to indicate that the POW's circumstances are about to change?
  • Note the times in which interviewees speak of feeling ashamed at being captured, feeling guilty for surviving, or feeling disappointed at their behavior. What accounts for these feelings?
  • How did the POWs try to instill order and discipline? Why was it important to act as a group? When did it become more important to act as an individual?
  • How did individuals attempt to resist or fight back against the Germans?
2. Divide your students into groups of five. Have each group compare their personal notes and organize their individual responses into group responses. Allow 15 minutes for this activity. Each group should elect a student to present the group's findings to the entire class.

3. With the entire class, discuss the findings of each group.

Activity Two
(one class period)

1. In-depth profiles and interviews of Berga witnesses and other materials are online on the Berga web site ( and in the Jewish Virtual Library, a project of the American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise (see These include:
  • Accounts of Berga POW experiences, including Anthony Acevedo, Norman Fellman, Hans Kasten, and many others.
  • An interview with Dr. Quentin Cramer, a doctor who treated Berga POWs after liberation.
  • An interview with War Crimes Trial Investigator Herschel Auerbach.
  • A collection of photographs taken soon after the liberation of American POWs.

2. Download and print out copies of the online Berga materials, enough for 4 or 5 groups to use.

3. Break up your classroom into groups of 4 or 5. Distribute the Berga Response Questions handout. Have them read several of the documents and respond to the questions on the handout (also listed below.)

    What new information do these documents provide to better understand the conditions at Berga?
    What information is familiar to you from viewing the documentary?
4. Discuss these questions with the entire classroom.

Culminating Activity/Assessment:
(one class period)

1. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, himself responsible for the deaths of millions of people, once said: "A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic." One of the goals of the literature of the Holocaust is to give voice to its millions of victims. As Charles Guggenheim, the writer and director of BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR says in the conclusion to the documentary: "These are just a few of the faces in my story. But there are millions of faces, and millions of stories, that have never been told, and deserve to be. We should remember that."

2. Have your students write a poem or a short piece of creative writing, using one of the details that your students noted in their study of the documentary film. Distribute the Berga Culminating Activity handout as a reference for your students as they complete the assignment.

3. Use a space in your classroom to display a selection of these creative works.

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