The Holocaust was not inevitable but was the result of the choices made by many individuals.
- 1How did people talk themselves out of doing the right thing during this time?
Ask students what it means to be a perpetrator, to perpetuate a crime. Ask them who the perpetrators of the Holocaust were. Explain that today you are focusing on how seemingly small decisions contributed to the perpetration of the Holocaust, even if that was not the person’s intent.
Listen to the audio file, “Do You Take the Oath?” by Facing History and Ourselves.
Think: Have students spend a few minutes writing down their response to this question: Why did the man in the recording sign the oath? (3 minutes)
Pair: Have students talk to the person next to them about their answers. Do they think the man should have made a different choice? Why was it hard to make a different choice?
Share: Use this exercise to engage in a discussion about Holocaust perpetrators. Was the man a perpetrator? How does he seem different from the Nazis seen in the movies? In the final wrap up to the lesson, the teacher should highlight that the Holocaust required the consent and participation of many different people, including business people, doctors, nurses, architects, pastors, teachers, store owners, and laborers. Some of these people participated because they agreed with Nazism but other people acted with self-interest and ended up strengthening Nazism.
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.