Lesson Plan

Segregation in History and Today

Watch video testimonies from Jewish survivors from USC iWitness. Students will open into a discussion about segregation in history and modern day.

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Nazi Germany

Enduring Understanding

As devastating a reality as we have seen from segregation in history, it still prevails in the world today.

Essential Question

  • 1What did segregation mean for the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe? What does it mean today?


10 Min

Begin by asking the class to write a short response answering the questions below. Assure students they will not be asked to share what they have written.

  1. What is segregation? What does it mean to you?
  2. Is segregation a thing of the past or does it have a place in today’s world?

You may also want to provide students with the official definition. Take this time to mention to students that segregation can be racial and religious.

Segregation: the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.

It is equally important to note that segregation can be further identified as being de jure or de facto. De jure segregation is implemented by laws while de facto segregation is based off common understanding and personal choice.


20 Min
Teacher's Note
You may need to make a free account with iWitness from the USC Shoah Foundation before accessing these testimonies. You can make an account and save the videos used prior to beginning this lesson for easy access.

Watch video testimonies on Kurt Baum (clips 19-23; 19:00-23:00 minutes) and Nomick Cyanmon (clip 17; 4:32-6:45) on USC IWitness.

Show testimonies one at a time, stopping to answer the questions for one before moving on to the other.

Questions for Kurt Baum:

  1. What changes did Kurt Baum describe from his social circle?
  2. How did Kurt’s father react to being kicked off the board from his club?
  3. What were some other instances of segregation in the community that he describes?

Questions for Nomick Cynamon:

  1. What did Nomick notice when he returned to the United States?
  2. How did he react to segregation that he saw?
  3. Why do you think he reacted the way he did?


20 Min

In an open forum, ask students for examples of segregation in communities, both in times of the Holocaust and in modern times.

  1. What was the purpose of segregating the Jews?
  2. In what ways can a community reinforce or dismantle segregation?
  3. Did your initial thoughts of segregation change over the course of this lesson?

Give students some time to add to what they wrote down at the beginning of the class.

Teacher Primer

Know Before You Go

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