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May 3, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance Day Lesson Plans and Activities

May 5, 2016, is Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom HaShoah. The following collection is designed to provide teachers with rich and meaningful resources on the Holocaust, engaging lesson plans and information to help students take steps to move forward without forgetting the past.

Foundational resources

1. Recommended online institutions

USHMMThe United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. The museum promotes the responsible teaching of the Holocaust through a variety of resources and programs to help the nation’s educators increase their knowledge of Holocaust history and implement sound teaching strategies.


As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is today a dynamic and vital place of inter-generational and international encounter.


IWitness brings the first-person stories of survivors and witnesses to genocide from the USC Shoah Foundation’s The Institute for Visual History and Education archive to teachers and their students via multimedia-learning activities that encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and help students understand the profound impact their words and actions can have on others.

2. Holocaust questionnaire

This powerful 10-question quiz gives students an opportunity to decide “what would they do” in the shoes of someone persecuted for their faith. Use it as a quick activity or as a warm up for deeper conversation.

3. 36 questions about the Holocaust answered

Use this unique and informative resource to help answer students’ questions about the Holocaust from the Simon Wiesanthal Museum of Tolerance.

4. Timeline of events 

Use this timeline filled with images and videos from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to help students gain context and perspective on the events that took place starting from just prior to 1933 to events that took place after 1945.

5. Documentary | The path to Nazi genocide

This 38-minute film from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum examines the Nazis’ rise and consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda and persecution of Jews and other victims. It also outlines the path by which the Nazis and their collaborators led a state to war and to the murder of millions of people.

6. Documentary | The Story of the Jews 

“The Story of the Jews”is a five-part documentary series created by renowned historian Simon Schama in collaboration with the BBC and PBS that chronicles the epic journey of the Jewish people from antiquity to the present day. Use these PBS Learning Media resources designed for the classroom to accompany the film.

Lesson Plans

1. Holocaust assessing responsibility and conscience 


This lesson plan helps students to analyze the different roles played by those involved in the Holocaust and aims to provide students with the opportunity to realize the individual and total impact of their actions.

2. Heidi’s dilemma


This lesson plan puts students in the position of a Dutch teenage girl who must make a decision whether to help save her friend or to abandon her. Within the lesson are both individual and group activities that culminate in a written assignment.

3. Lidice & Lezaky : Their stories through stamps 

Feature Image for Stamp Lesson Plan

This lesson reveals the haunting story of the towns of Lidice and Lezaky – both who were razed to the ground by Nazis told through commemorative stamps. Students will examine actual images of the stamps to unlock the story of these two sites of devastation.

4. Poetry of the Holocaust 

These poetry resources have been provided by the North Carolina Civic Eduation Consortium (NCCEC). Please see pages 10 – 13 for poems and activities including “Hangman” by Maurice Ogden and “First They Came for the Jews” by Pastor Martin Niemöller. For more resources on the Holocaust from NCCEC please click here. For poetry focusing on children and the Holocaust please click here.

5. Righteous Among the Nations: Rescuers of the Holocaust

The Holocaust was one of the darkest times in recorded history, yet there were acts of courage and resistance that shown like a beacon of hope in a sea of despair and grief. Both Jews and non-Jews risked their lives to save others and this lesson explores those given the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for their acts of bravery and self sacrifice.  This research-based lesson will help students to identify and connect with those who decided not to be a bystander, but instead become a hero.

6Lesson plan and film | One survivor remembers: antisemitism

One Survivor remembers

This lesson plan, created by Teaching Tolerance, educates students about of Antisemitism, explores the use of propaganda and stereotypes, makes students aware of Holocaust denial and makes connections to current-day antisemitism, racism, prejudice and bigotry. This lesson was made to compliment the film “One Survivor Remembers” which has been made available online streaming in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and HBO.



1. Resource | Confront anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism today

Use this engaging resource from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to bring students’ attention to the ongoing problem of anti-Semitism faced by Jews around the world and how they can help become part of the solution to end it.

2. Documentary | Worse than War

worse than war

Use this documentary from Daniel Goldhagen and PBS to help students understand genocide so that they do not grow up to become bystanders. Goldenhagen uses personal interviews to illuminate the story of genocide in the 20th century. “Facing History and Ourselves” provides a rich educator resource guide to accompany the film.

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