Nazi Germany and its collaborators established more than 40,000 camps and other incarceration sites across Europe between 1933 and 1945. The camps were used for a range of purposes including forced-labor camps, transit camps and extermination camps, killing sites designed for systematic mass murder. The majority of interned people in the Nazi camps were Jews. Others were prisoners of war, political opponents, the Sinti and Roma (“Gypsies”), Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, habitual criminals, and persons accused of “asocial” behaviour. Incarcerated people lived under harsh conditions and were exposed to humiliation, physical and psychological abuse, starvation, disease, and systematic murder.
These lessons explore the different types of Nazi camps, in addition to examples for analysis and comparison. Students have the opportunity to employ survivor testimonies and their own inquiry skills to examine experiences within the Nazi camps.
This teaching resource facilitates student engagement with historical context and individual testimonies from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s collection.
The activities are recommended for students of grades eight to 12, with adaptations possible for intermediate grades.
An investigation of testimony and primary source material fosters historical and critical thinking skills in students.
The guide complements the VHEC collection of testimonies, and is divided into three sections.
The NOW activities introduce students to the theme of the lesson cluster and engage them with selected testimonies. If a teacher only has one class in which to engage with Primary Voices, this is the recommended lesson.
The NEXT lesson deepens students’ engagement with the theme, introducing a greater range of testimonies.
Finally, the BEYOND activities encourage teachers and students to choose their own inquiry questions. They are encouraged to explore the VHEC archives collection in greater depth.
SUMMARY OF LESSONS
After viewing the video testimonies of Holocaust survivors, students will engage in a discussion on the topic of dehumanization in the Nazi camps and its effects on prisoners. The discussion is followed by student-led research and analysis of labour, concentration and extermination camps.
In either a carousel or jigsaw activity, students will learn about different Nazi camps established during the Holocaust. This activity is supplemented with the testimonies of camp survivors. Once students have gathered information on various camps, they will engage in a class discussion.
Using the Activity Sheet: The Inquiry Cycle as a guide, and incorporating recommended testimonies as a source, students will design a powerful question related to the topic of Nazi camps during the Holocaust.