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INTRODUCTION TO HOLOCAUST
Use with Section B, Activity 3 of the lesson on Racial Discrimination


Introduction


The history of Jews in Germany is nearly two thousand years old. The earliest evidence of Jewish settlements in the German provinces can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. While the first several centuries were a period of relative peace and prosperity, the period between the Crusades and World War II were often marked with persecution and discrimination starting with the massacre of hundreds of Jews in 1096 and ending with the Final Solution which sought to exterminate the Jewish people.

During latter part of the 18th century, Jewish life in Germany achieved a level of stability for a number of years. On July 3, 1869, the North German Confederation declared that "all existing limitations on civil rights derived from a difference in religious persuasion are hereby eliminated." Two years later, Otto von Bismarck, united all German lands under the leadership of Prussia. The new German Reich finally granted Jews the equality they had sought for so long. Once emancipated, Jews were allowed to move to cities, establish shops, and take part as elected officials in parliament.

Just a few years following emancipation, anti-semitism became a political movement which found wide support among the German middle class and rural population. This movement held Jews responsible for the economic failures of the time. Anti-semitism continued alongside the advances made after the unification of Germany. Although first coined in 1879, the term "anti-semitism" is now generally used to refer to the discrimination against or persecution of Jews throughout history because of their religious beliefs or race.

In 1923, Hitler proclaimed that "the Jew is a race, but not human." Holding Jews responsible for Germany's social and economic problems, Hitler systematically removed all of the civil, social, and economic rights they had gained just 50 years earlier and embarked on a path toward a Final Solution.


Student Directions for the Holocaust Timeline

1. Your teacher will give you a piece of paper that describes key events in the history of the Holocaust. Take the selection and pass it around in your group. Take note of the years represented by your selection. In this activity, you will become an expert on your selection, illustrate and summarize key events from it, and present your work to your classmates.

2. Take turns reading the selection within your group. Each person should read one passage from the selection aloud, then pass the paper to the next person.

3. After each paragraph is read, the group should decide if the paragraph describes discrimination, resistance to it, or both. Write your decision next to each paragraph. Note: Be sure to include attempts to resist discrimination that failed or were prevented when they are mentioned.

4. Draw at least two pictures of key events from your selection. When possible, include a drawing that shows an example of discrimination, and another that shows examples of protest or resistance. If applicable, you can also show acts of resistance that failed. (In this case, be sure to tell why they failed.) If your selection included photos, you can add those to your work as well.

5. Write a summary of your drawing. Include important dates, descriptions of laws, names of people, and other key facts. DO NOT copy directly from the reading itself. Write your summaries on a separate piece of paper and attach them to your drawings.

6. Choose a spokesperson to present your work to the class. Be ready to discuss examples of both discrimination and resistance.

Analysis and discussion:

· Give examples of discrimination carried out through economic, social, and political institutions.
· Describe some key acts of resistance against the Nazis.
· What prevented the resistance efforts of Jews from being more effective?
· Give examples of scapegoating and explain why you think it was directed at the Jews.

· Use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to describe the rights that were violated by the Nazis.

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