Lesson Plan

Some Were Neighbors

Explore an online exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum titled, “Some Were Neighbors.” Students will look into the different categories of collaborators that assisted in carrying out the Holocaust.

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Enduring Understanding

Collaboration during the Holocaust came from many sources. Friends, neighbors, and teachers all had a hand in turning on the Jewish people.

Essential Question

  • 1What challenges do you face if you go against the government, culture, or the military?


10 Min

Read this quote by Holocaust historian, Raul Hilberg in “Destruction of the European Jews” to the class:

“An administrative process of such range cannot be carried out by a single agency, even if it is a trained and specialized body like the Gestapo or a commissariat for Jewish affairs, for when a process cuts into every phase of human life, it must ultimately feed upon the resources of an entire community…. The machinery of destruction was the organized community in one of its specialized roles.”

Ask the students to take a moment to think about what it is saying. What are some things that come to mind? Have them jot down some notes for two minutes before asking them to share. This does not need to be a lengthy discussion, just call on a few people to get class started.


10 Min

Direct students to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum online exhibit, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity in the Holocaust. Allow students and opportunity to explore the site, become familiar with navigating around it. See what they hone in on as they do so. At the bottom of the page there are different tabs featuring different categories of collaborators. Some were: Neighbors, Workers, Teenagers, Policemen, Religious Leaders, Teachers, or Friends.


30 Min

Divide the class into groups of three or five. Assign each group a category: Neighbors, Workers, Teenagers, Policemen, Religious Leaders, Teachers, or Friends.

Each group should prepare a brief presentation on their category. The presentation does not have to be a visual presentation, just ask the students to discuss their category with the class. They do not have to describe all of the pictures, just ask them to pick a few that they found the most compelling. If possible, allow students to project some of the pictures they chose to show the class.

Provide students with the following points to help structure their presentations:

  1. What group are you presenting? Summarize some of the information you have gathered.
  2. What do you think made people in this group participate?
  3. Were there opportunities to resist or opt out?
  4. Were they acting as part of their job?
  5. What role do you think peer pressure had on their decision to act?

Wisconsin Academic Standards

This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

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