Lesson Plan

The Nazi Camp System

Students will read through resources by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the different types of camp systems established by the Nazi regime.

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Enduring Understanding

The term ‘concentration camp’ tends to be used incorrectly, becoming an all-inclusive name for the Nazi camps during the Holocaust.

Essential Question

  • 1What is the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp? Why does the terminology matter?


5 Min

Begin by asking students if they have ever heard of Auschwitz. Then ask if they have heard about Dachau. Do they know what they were? What was the difference between the two? You may find it helpful to pull up these maps of Dachau and Auschwitz by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.


30 Min

Read through the resource, The Nazi Camp System: Terminology by USHMM with the class. Start at the top of the page with the overview and the three Key Facts before moving on.

After you go through the reading, ask students what is the importance is of using the correct terminology when talking about the Nazi camp system?

Then divide the class into groups of three or five and direct them to the resource, Killing Centers: In Depth by USHMM. Have groups read through it amongst themselves. They can all read silently or they can switch off reading out loud to their group. Once they finish reading, have the groups discuss and record their answers to the Critical Thinking Questions located at the bottom of the page.


10 Min

Go over the Critical Thinking Questions with the class, giving students an opportunity to ask questions and clear up any confusion.

Finally, ask students why they feel it is important to differentiate and use the appropriate terminology when discussing the Nazi camp system. It may be worth pointing out that the term ‘concentration camp’ is used by some people in the U.S. to describe the Japanese American camps established during World War II, although the term used by the U.S. government was ‘Internment Camps’.

Wisconsin Academic Standards

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

Teacher Primer

Know Before You Go

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