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Classroom Presentations for Educators

Choose from nearly 20 PowerPoint presentations designed for 90-minute blocks. They can easily be adapted to any classroom format. The topics have also been divided into separate presentations for different level abilities of students.

Printable List of Presentations

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Judaism & Historical Anti-Judaism

For classes such as World Perspectives I, Western Civilization, Intro to Holocaust, or Sociology, this presentation gives an overview of the history of Judaism and its religious traditions, ideas, and values. The roots of historical anti-Judaism are also traced, from antiquity to the European Middle Ages. This is a good starting point for any study of the Holocaust.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Antisemitisms: Hate as Identity

This presentation explores the origins of antisemitism utilizing Rabbi Jonathan Sak’s metaphor of a “mutating virus.” How do issues of identity (individual and collective) allow the cultural expression of antisemitism? The development of antisemitic tropes and ideas from pre-Christian anti-Judaism to Christian anti-Judaism and antisemitism to modern antisemitism will be examined. This presentation broadly examines the difficult relationship between Judaism and Christianity and Christianity's wrestling with its own assumptions and traditions while facing the darkness of the Holocaust. We will wrestle with current manifestations of antisemitism – including anti-Zionism – while examining what is at stake.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Traveling and Studying in Israel

This presentation developed from trips to Israel and will serve as a fun travelogue illustrating the geography, culture, and history of Israel. Particular focus will be given to the Old City of Jerusalem as well as Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. Additionally, we will visit the landscapes of the Galilee, Masada and the Dead Sea, as well as the Jordanian and Lebanese borders. The presentation will end by highlighting the work and mission of Yad Vashem (Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority).

The Rise of the Nazis: 1933-1939 (Middle School)

This presentation will focus on the origins and rise of the Nazis; the accession to political power; the human rights violations and antisemitic policies. How do human rights violations escalate without being checked and what is the responsibility of individuals when facing such violations? A major focus will be how we create the ‘other’ and how to be an Upstander in the face of a perpetrator or bully. An ideal introductory presentation for high school and middle school dealing with the issues of personal and social responsibility and resisting bullying behavior.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Rise of the Nazis: Establishing Dictatorship, Destroying Democracy (1933-1936)

This presentation focuses on the early years of the Nazis and explores the layers of complicity, initiatives, and cooperation that undermined the German democratic system. We will explore the contextual factors such as the legislative crisis; political decision-making; violence; manipulation of law; manipulation of the electoral and legal process; improvisations; and the motivations of industrialists, nationalists, and radicals. By exploring the use of the camera as a weapon, this social study of German society will also examine the momentum towards the Nazi racialized state. How do human rights violations escalate without being checked and what is the responsibility of individuals when facing such violations?

Timeline 1933-1937
Student Worksheet Rise of Nazis: Establishing Dictatorship, Destroying Democracy

Discrimination and Law in Nazi Germany (1933-1938)

The Nazis passed over 2000 laws in their persecution of German Jews. This simple figure shows how the Nazis were obsessed not only with the "Jewish Question," but also in their need to act "legally." Hitler had a great contempt for law, but came to see its use as an absolutely necessary in his war to progressively remove human rights from those he perceived as dangerous threats to the German Volk. Why? This presentation deals with the legal dimension of the Holocaust and its role in the lead-up to the Final Solution. The actions of the police and the judiciary will be highlighted with a particular focus on Franz Schlegelberger. He served in the Ministry of Justice from 1931-1942. For the last seventeen months of his service, Schlegelberger was Director of the Ministry of Justice. Key themes in the development of human rights violations will be discussed to illustrate early warning signs of genocide.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Elie Wiesel: Trauma, Remembrance and Hope

Live, do not despair. What do we want our students to learn when teaching Night? “Such is the miracle: A tale about despair becomes a tale against despair.” Open Heart, p, 73. I often hear that teachers and students are apprehensive or hesitant to teach or read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Perhaps that is because we believe that our role is to point out that evil exists in the world. True. But if this is our only focus, we will live in a “gloom and doom” curriculum. What is left to teach except despair and hopelessness?

I would like to suggest that we teach Night not to only have our students encounter the history of the Holocaust, but to also learn to live fuller and more productive lives. Wiesel’s writing of his stylized, constructed memoir was a beginning for him, not an end. He writes a counter-narrative of protest that attempts to frame or hold the devastation of the world of his childhood, but through the eyes of a Hasidic boy. It is a witnessing story that serves as a new beginning, a breaking away from the bleakness of 1944-1945. Wiesel’s writing of Night served as a springboard to life – to a vocation, to tremendous deeds, to discover how to live as a Jew in the post Holocaust world. I would offer that rather than try to avoid the trauma or even to dwell in it, we should use the text to inspire our students to find ways of contributing to the world now grounded in deeper knowledge.

To do this, I would suggest that it is pedagogically imperative to pair Night with Wiesel’s 2013 Open Heart. Facing open heart surgery Wiesel explores, in a very short text, what it means to open his heart. Pairing these two texts will illustrate that Wiesel was not frozen in time, a captive to despair. Life went on and Wiesel found joy, fulfillment and purpose through family and teaching. Open Heart can be used to open up Night and allow students wrestle with the text as Wiesel does. How does Open Heart inform us about his journey?

The first line begins with a date. The date is suggestive, June. Deportations to the “kingdom of Night” from Wiesel’s hometown of Sighet took place in May. We live with trauma and as anniversaries arrive in our lives we are always conscious of it. In Chapter 5, Wiesel reflects on what happened in the camps and gives us more insight into his relationship with his father. In chapter 8 he clings to life and all that the future may hold. Throughout this book Wiesel offers short reflections on his son; his father; his family; wrestling with despair; writing Night and his 50 other works; of embracing a Jewish identity; and asking if his life has contributed to the world. Though he rarely ever talks about his mother and sisters (some things must always remain private and personal) he does mention them in Open Heart. He also comes to a moment of healing with his father.

And so, I encourage you not to avoid the trauma, but by witnessing it, we use it to inspire responsibility. Wiesel employs us to never give up and never despair. “Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” There is enough in Open Heart that will inspire reflection and open up new thoughts and possibilities both in reading Night and in living a life well lived. Students will see Wiesel in new ways, ‘fencing with the shadows, but always having the song.’

This power point presentation traces the life of Elie Wiesel from his birth in Sighet, Romania; his early, formative years; the historical context of Hungarian history; the round-up of his family and deportation to Auschwitz. We will discuss Night as the beginning, not end, of Wiesel’s encounter with the Shoah by exploring the text through his Hasidic roots and identity. We will explore Night as a counter-narrative; a constructed memoir; a crafted testimony; a matzeva (marker/gravestone) about the limits of witnessing and “surviving survival.” And yet, by studying the Shoah and Wiesel’s writings we will encounter his hope that the spark for goodness must be ignited within us.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Student Worksheet: Elie Wiesel

A "Perfect Storm": Antecedents and Precursors to the Holocaust

This presentation examines the preexisting prejudices, myths, anxieties and fears that the Nazis astutely utilized to not only become a mainstream political party, but one with “moral authority” within German society. Focus will be given to persecution of the offspring of French-African soldiers after World War I; homosexuals; the handicapped; the Sinti and Roma; Jehovah’s Witnesses; and the Jews. In the cases of these minorities, professionals and many segments of society became invested with the questions thrust before them and wrestled – through growing frustration – to imagine more radical solutions…from sterilization to deportation to…? While obsessed with “the Jews”, the Nazi persecution of these other groups helped them develop “useful” ideas and techniques that would emerge in the Final Solution. Nazism existed and was attractive precisely because it could effectively “other” the other. In confronting issues such as homophobia and racism this presentation seeks to emphasize the need for eternal vigilance for the “other” in our midst.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Germany 1933-1938

Using Marion Kaplan's work, this presentation deals with gender. "Along the stations toward extinction … each gender lived its own journey." Using images and memoirs, the focus here is on the role of everyday Germans, on a daily level in the social death of their neighbors. Often overlooked is the initiative of ordinary Germans in complying with the new tone of the government without serious legislation being passed in the early stages of the regime. Also misunderstood is that the mixed messages being sent did not make the so-called "writing on the wall" clear until 1938. A comparison of the male and female German Jewish experience will reveal the difficulties in accurately assessing the dangers facing this small minority of Germans.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

The Holocaust: "The Twisted Road to Auschwitz"

This presentation focuses on the evolution to genocide that took place from 1939-1945. The major emphasis is on how Nazi policy developed from forced emigration in the 1930s to the "Final Solution" by 1941. Specific attention will be placed upon the Nazi racial laboratory of Poland 1939-1940 and how Nazi policy evolved from the difficulties in implementing the fantasy world of Hitler, Himmler, and the SS. Topics to be covered include: Nazi ideology; the influence of the unfolding war situation; the influence of location; emerging role of the SS; the difficulties and failures of implementing emigration policy and demographic engineering; the failure and complicity of the Wehrmacht; T 4 Program; The ghettos; The Commissar Order; the Wannsee Conference; the Einsatzgruppen and the so-called “Final Solution.” (For advanced classes.)

(For advanced classes.)

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Hiding and Passing: Background for Europa, Europa

This power point traces the life and times of Solomon Perel in preparation for showing the film “Europa, Europa.” Using events and images from his early life through the end of the war (including photographs of himself, the places, and other characters portrayed in the movie) this presentation addresses such issues as: Factors in deciding to hide or pass as a non-Jew; the dangers and difficulties in hiding or passing; and the difficulties and personal impact of hiding or passing.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Anne Frank - A Indestructible Voice

This presentation frames Anne’s Frank’s voice and experiences within the historical context of her life. Special attention is given to the life of Otto Frank and the memories of Hannah (Goslar) Pick, Anne’s childhood friend. The life and decisions of the Frank family (such as emigration and going into hiding) are placed within the context of the Nazi era. This presentation also traces the family’s history after their betrayal in the Secret Annex. We will be challenged by the courageous acts of a few Righteous and consider how their example can inspire us to be “Thy Brothers’ Keeper.”

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

The Righteous: Danish Rescue

This presentation is designed for elementary students reading Number the Stars. We will discuss in general terms the history and relative advantages of Denmark during the Nazi era and explore the rescuers and the rescued. We will also touch upon some of the Danish complicity with the Nazis and examine "goodness" as a human, not national trait. We will explore the Righteous and the traits of an "Upstander". (Grades 5-8)

Rescue and The Righteous: Resisting Evil/Weapons of Hope

Using the Jewish foundation for the Righteous’ eight “Traits that Transcend” this presentation seeks to introduce students to the subject of rescue during the Holocaust. Rescue will be placed in its historical context while approaching the question of how these people did what they did to save Jews. Examples of a “Righteous Among the Nations” will be using to illustrate each trait as well as a contemporary figure to reinforce how these traits transcend the confines of history.

The United States and the Challenge of Nazi Germany

In 1937 President Roosevelt confided to a friend in regards to the looming threat of Nazi Germany, “It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you’re trying to lead and find no one there.” This will be a contextual examination of what the U.S. knew about the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany, how it reacted, and what FDR attempted to do within the political and social realities of the day. U.S. policy is presented in context of the unfolding events during the years of peace (1933-1939). Topics covered include: U.S. immigration policy and the quota system, U.S. attitudes of pacifism, isolationism, racism, xenophobia and antisemitism in the 1930s, the Evian Refugee Conference, the German American Bund; the Voyage of the St. Louis; and the failed Wager-Rogers kindertransport bill.


Holocaust Denial: Deceit and Distortion

Holocaust denial is an active propaganda effort to deny the reality of the approximately 6 million victims of the Shoah. This presentation will answer questions such as, “How do we know what we know?” “Who would deny the Holocaust and why?” The context and origins of Holocaust denial (initiated by the Nazis themselves) will be presented as will the role of the historian as witness. Fundamental denier motives, distortions and tropes will be examined. Using the documented facts of the Shoah, this presentation will illustrate how denier arguments have no basis in truth.

Genocide's Early Warning Signs

April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in the State of NH. What is required to recognize, deter and prevent genocide? This presentation explores the risk factors of genocide through the risk assessment models of Gregory Stanton and Barbara Harff. When do processes become part of a genocidal momentum? How do we prevent the escalation? How do we identify moments in the process where intervention (any type) can change the path? We will discuss the U.N. Genocide definition; motives for genocide; genocide risk factors and warning signs. We will explore proactive and reactive responses and the concept of the “Right to Protect” (R2P). We will also wrestle with the tension between the moral imperative to act and the principles of nonintervention and state sovereignty. This presentation seeks to empower students to make such attitudes and behaviors culturally unacceptable.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

- Classroom Handout Genocide

The Power of Place: Encountering Auschwitz

"There is one thing worse than Auschwitz itself...and that is if the world forgets there was such a place." - Henry Appel, Auschwitz survivor

How does one encounter the killing site of Auschwitz? What can we learn? How do we "remember"? Based upon visiting Auschwitz I and II in November 2014 with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) this presentation explores how ordinary people commit extraordinary evil. Weaving together archival images from a project by two Nazi photographers from the lab/identification service project in Auschwitz with pictures from the 2014 trip, we will explore the process of genocide and the "moral universe" the perpetrators created. We will explore the deliberate structures created to serve the needs of the SS, architects and businessmen in exploiting and destroying human beings. We will make room for mourning, refusing to normalize our outrage, and ask, "Where do we go from here?"

Spielberg's "Auschwitz

KSC Equinox Story

KSC Story

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: 70 Years After Liberation

Tom White is available at a moment's notice to discuss issues, to sit on panels, to engage in question and answer sessions.

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Contact Tom White

Tom White
Coordinator of Educational Outreach

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Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

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