Lesson Plan

Hierarchy of Races

Students will watch a video by Yad Vashem explaining the Nazi ideology of race hierarchy. This lesson will open your students up to a discussion on race and the role it plays in society.

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Nazi Germany

Enduring Understanding

Nazi ideology pushed the need for racial purity and claimed that disobeying this would bring the destruction of mankind.

Essential Question

  • 1What is race?


5 Min

Begin by asking your students if they have heard of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. What does it state? What was the theory applied to?


20 Min

Show students a YouTube video titled, Key Historical Concepts in Holocaust Education: Race Doctrine by Yad Vashem. Before starting the video, give students the list of questions. Let them know they will have a chance to watch the video a second time.

  1. What did the Nazis base the categorization of races from?
  2. What did this theory state?
  3. How did Hitler alter this theory to fit his preconceived notion of the division of races?
  4. Where did Jews fall in his hierarchy of races?
  5. What did Hitler say would happen if Aryans were to mix with the lesser races?

Give students a few minutes to finish writing down their answers. Watch the video a second time if needed and then go over the questions as a class.


20 Min

Divide the class into groups of four. Provide them with this quote by American novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni Morrison, “There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race – scientifically, anthropologically.”

In their groups, ask students to have a discussion with the questions below:

  1. The video placed heavy influence on the importance of race and hierarchy of humans. How does this quote combat that view?
  2. In what ways is race still an important part of society today?

Reconvene as a class to open up the discussion. Were there any disagreements within the groups?

Teacher Primer

Know Before You Go

Before you teach, use our teacher primer to freshen up on your content knowledge.