Lesson Plan

To Live is to Resist

Watch the testimonies of Anna Heilman and Helen K., women who were imprisoned at Auschwitz and bravely resisted Nazism, each in their own way.

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Enduring Understanding

Even in settings engineered to create docile victims, Jewish prisoners found the strength to fight back.

Essential Question

  • 1Is revolt meaningful even when it is crushed by the oppressor?


10 Min
Teacher's Note
Students should know what an extermination camp is, so be sure to review this term with them. If necessary, return to the lesson plans about extermination camps.

Ask students how they define resistance. What does resistance look like and what form does it take? Ask them if they would expect there to be much resistance in extermination camps. Why or why not?


30 Min
Teacher's Note
At least three forms of resistance emerge (living itself, singing Hebrew songs, and blowing up the crematoria).

Show the video of Anna Heilman from Facing History and Ourselves. Preview the video by telling students that Anna’s story describes how the plot to blow up the crematoria at Auschwitz became a reality.
After the video concludes, ask students how they feel about this act of defiance? Was it successful?

Then, show the video of Helen K. from 19:52 to 25:50
Before beginning the video, ask students to record instances of resistance, however they define it.

After the video, ask students to share their responses, both written and felt, in small groups. What forms of resistance did they notice? What did they feel as they watched this testimony?


10 Min

Finally, ask students to take a moment to write short responses to the question of whether these acts of defiance were successful or not. Given that most individuals died who tried to revolt, were their efforts in vain or meaningful? Why or why not?

Time permitting, open up for a broad class discussion.

Wisconsin Academic Standards

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

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