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Classroom Presentations and In-Service Training for Educators

Choose from 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. Scroll down for list of in-service presentations.

To Schedule a Presentation or Professional Training In-Service Workshop, email Tom White.

  1. Classroom Presentations
    1. Judaism & Historical Anti-Judaism
    2. Antisemitisms: Hate as Identity
    3. QAnon Conspiracy Fraud
    4. Traveling and Studying in Israel
    5. Heeding the Warning Signs: Antecedents and Precursors to the Holocaust
    6. The Rise of the Nazis: 1933-1939 (Middle School)
    7. Rise of the Nazis: The Plot to Destroy Democracy (1919-1933)
    8. Destroying German Democracy From Within: Failure and Limitations of Democratic Institutions (1933-1938)
    9. White Purity, Eugenics, and Lethal Medicine
    10. The United States and the Ongoing Problem of Nazism and Nazi Germany
    11. Learning From the Past: Facing Difficult History in the U.S. and Germany
    12. Elie Wiesel: Trauma, Remembrance, and Hope
    13. Anne Frank: To Be Free, to Be Myself
    14. Number the Stars: Danish Rescue (Elementary School)
    15. Civil Society Between Darkness and Light: Danish Escape and Rescue
    16. France Under Nazi Occupation: Memory, Myth, and Misogyny
    17. The Holocaust: "The Twisted Road to Auschwitz"
    18. The Power of Place: Encountering Auschwitz
    19. The Human Problem of Genocide
    20. Bosnia-Hercegovina: Remembering Genocide
    21. Hiding and Passing: Background for
    22. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Germany 1933-1938
  2. Professional Development and In-Service Workshops
    1. Teaching the Holocaust & Genocide: Remembrance, Education, Building Resiliency
    2. Dehumanization and Incitement: The Use and Abuse of Holocaust Photographs and Images
    3. Teaching Anne Frank: Resistance and Keeping the Moral Core
    4. Teaching Elie Wiesel: Trauma, Remembrance and Hope

Classroom Presentations

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

Antisemitism is a dynamic force of hate that makes people stupid. It is toxic to democracy and lethal to its targets. 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:

QAnon Conspiracy Fraud

QAnon emerged in 2017 and has gone from being a fringe conspiracy to one embraced by political leaders. What is the QAnon fraud? We will explore this new transmission of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by examining its antisemitic roots and mainstream appeal. What are the characteristics of conspiratorial thinking? How can people accept and justify these frauds? Why do conspiracy theory frauds threaten democracy? How do they damage and mislead? How do we identify and stop conspiracy theories?

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).

Heeding the Warning Signs: Antecedents and Precursors to the Holocaust

Mass atrocity is a process, not an event. How the Holocaust not just possible, but permissible? When do everyday social processes combine to form a genocidal momentum? What was the context for the flourishing and destructive appeal of fascism? Focusing on groups targeted by conservatives and Nazis, how were the preexisting building blocks of mass atrocity (anti-black racism, eugenics, homophobia, and antisemitism) utilized to make the Nazis not only a mainstream political party, but one with “moral authority” within German society? While obsessed with “the Jews”, the Nazi persecution of many groups helped them to utilize natural social processes of group identification and turn them on a genocidal path. Nazism existed and was attractive precisely because its ideology “made sense” to many Germans and held emotional appeal by tapping into: symbolic expression and cultural meaning; morality; national pride; redemption; and enemy-making in times of trauma and confusion. By exploring “cultures of defeat” students will be challenged to wrestle with the similarities of the Confederate post-war construction of the “Lost cause” with Nazi ideology and the appeal of fascism. We will also explore U.S. connections to Nazi race policy in order to become more alert that when “others” in our midst are targeted or marginalized, we all risk losing our freedom. Democracy is never guaranteed and this presentation serves as a warning.

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: The Plot to Destroy Democracy (1919-1933)

Extremism is a symptom of democratic decline. Did the Nazis come to power through coercion and/or consent? How was Hitler, a constant failure rescued by those who wished to use him, able to exploit the weaknesses and tensions in the Weimar Republic to become chancellor? We will trace Hitler’s failures and personality myths while exploring his changing political tactics. We will examine the inability of opposition parties to unify against Nazism. Close attention will be focused on how Article 48 (Presidential rule by decree) enabled a small group of anti-democratic, conservative and nationalist politicians and aristocrats to wield extraordinary power in a plot to destroy the Weimar Republic. We will explore their fatal mistake of rescuing Hitler from failure in order to champion their conservative and nationalist agendas. Once they agree to naming him chancellor, Hitler and the Nazis will dismantle the Republic within five months utilizing the Reichstag Fire, the election of March 1933, and the Enabling Act.

Timeline 1932-1937

Student Worksheet

Destroying German Democracy From Within: Failure and Limitations of Democratic Institutions (1933-1938)

Democracies are not guaranteed. How are targeted groups created? How do you convince people that harmless people are a threat? How do you legally restrict freedoms? How do you get professional and institutional buy-in? How does mass atrocity become not just possible, but permissible? This presentation explores the Nazi destruction of democracy from within and how competing agendas from institutions and individuals propelled society towards Nazism. How did concentration camps emerge and expand? How did the SS grow to undermine legal structures and constraints? How were institutions such as the judiciary, police, parliament, free press and other basic freedoms undermined and manipulated? This presentation examines how some conservatives overcame their general sense of unease and helped the Nazis to destroy democracy and build a police and terror state. We will explore how mass atrocity not only became possible, but permissible.

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

White Purity, Eugenics, and Lethal Medicine

We will explore how and why an elitist, antidemocratic, race-based ideology became popular and got implemented in the U.S. before Hitler came to power in Germany. What is the connection to and impact on Nazi race policy and mass murder? How was Nazi race law, marriage law, forced sterilization, the Nuremberg Laws, children’s euthanasia, the T4 Euthanasia program, and the Holocaust the byproduct of eugenic ideas and American precedents? What role did misogyny play? What echoes still exist? How can eugenics history help to confront the threat of racism and white supremacy? How does confronting difficult history help us to notice, own, and confront implicit bias? We will wrestle with identifying the factors that contribute to targeting people and how to confront and suppress them. What are the connections and differences between American and Nazi German eugenics practices?

Download Essay: Eugenics

The United States and the Ongoing Problem of Nazism and Nazi Germany

Facing the challenge of fascism and its appeal in the U.S. President Roosevelt was able to rescue liberal democracy in an uncomfortable partnership with the Southern Democratic Party that combined progressive ideas with Jim Crow racism. We will contrast Hitler’s leadership with FDR’s and explore how FDR’s “missionary generation” responds to the threat of Nazism. Policy decisions are presented in context of the unfolding events between 1933 and 1938 and the growing need to respond to international provocations. Topics covered include: U.S. immigration policy and the quota system; U.S. attitudes of pacifism, isolationism, racism, xenophobia and antisemitism; anti-lynching legislation and political realities; the Evian Refugee Conference, the German American Bund; Charlie Chaplin; and the failed Wager-Rogers kindertransport bill. How does the past help us find resiliency in the struggle to preserve democracy?


Learning From the Past: Facing Difficult History in the U.S. and Germany

Tasked by Hitler to develop race laws, Nazi thinkers specifically and repeatedly cited the American precedent as the world leader in white supremacist legislation. As the Nazis began researching American race laws, they discovered that immigration, naturalization, and marriage laws were more useful than the Jim Crow laws in crafting what became the infamous Nuremberg Laws. How did American racism influence German race policy and how does the contemporary German encounter with its Nazi past help Americans confront their difficult history of slavery? What do cultures of defeat (the Confederacy and post WW I Germany) have in common? How did the big lie of the “Lost cause” myth distort the history of the Civil War, facilitate a different re-enslavement of black Americans, and lead to today’s rising white nationalism? We will explore the second Civil War (the War against Reconstruction) and how its ideology of racism has influenced the American experience. We will explore the for-profit convict labor system, Hollywood’s subtle and not-so-subtle embrace of both racism and the “Lost cause” myth, and the symbolic and identity-ladened issue of Confederate statues. How does implicit and explicit bias reinforce racism and how is racism detrimental to all, except the handful of leaders who exploit it? With the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, we have witnessed the threat that antisemitism, racism, hate, and Nazism pose to democracy. How does the experience and wisdom of targeted groups help to strengthen our democratic experience and provide an antidote to fascism? How do we encounter the past to promote competencies for democratic citizenship?

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

Anne Frank: To Be Free, to Be Myself

Who was Anne Frank? This presentation frames Anne’s Frank’s experiences as one of growth and introspection through her diary. How does l Anne’s voice still remain, as she hoped, “useful” as we face the challenges of today? How do we resist evil while maintaining our moral core? Drawing on the diary and Anne’s experiences we will challenge our own prejudices and ask difficult questions of ourselves. Special attention is given to the memories of Hannah (Goslar) Pick, Anne’s childhood friend (whose January 2007 interview will be used). The life and decisions of the Frank family (such as emigration and going into hiding) are placed within the context of the Nazi era. Otto Frank’s failed attempt to get his two children (Margot and Anne) into the United States begins a discussion of refugee policy and the villainization of immigrants and refugees. This presentation also traces the family’s history after their betrayal in the Secret Annex, arrival at Auschwitz, and the final days of those hiding in the Secret Annex. How can we draw on the example of the rescuers and of the Franks themselves to honor Anne’s April 1944 wish, “If only I can be myself”?

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Number the Stars: Danish Rescue (Elementary School)

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. It will place the story and its characters within the broader context of events in Denmark during the war. It gives a general account of the history of the escape and rescue of Danish Jews while exploring the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous’ 8 traits of an “Upstander.” (Grades 5-8)

Civil Society Between Darkness and Light: Danish Escape and Rescue

An exploration of the German occupation of Denmark, the Danish resistance, the rescue operation to Sweden, and the postwar reintegration of Jewish refugees. What factors shaped Danish attitudes towards its Jewish neighbors? Was the Danish government collaborating or merely cooperating? Why was the summer of 1943 the turning point? What was different about Nazi policy in Denmark? What vital role and example did Sweden provide? A particular focus will be on the fishing village of Gilleleje and those rescued and others captured and sent to Theresienstadt. Two child survivor testimonies recorded in October 2015 (Ole Philpson and Tove Udshott) will be utilized. By examining Denmark’s unique experience and its testament to civil society before, during, and after the Holocaust, we raise questions about how to improve civic responsibility and build stronger democracies.

France Under Nazi Occupation: Memory, Myth, and Misogyny

Exploring the traumatic history of France during World War II, this presentation explores collaboration, the Holocaust, resistance, and memory. How is “collaboration” defined, who defines it, and why? What role did contentious politics and ideological divides play in Vichy collaboration and the Holocaust? How does memory continue to be a battleground between the right and the left? How does gender shape interpretations of the past? What was unique about the French experience? Why did a greater percentage of its Jews survive the Holocaust? Topics covered include: the ongoing political conflict between left and right; the defeat of France in 1940; antisemitism; Vichy collaboration; French resistance; French police roundups; “Vél d’Hiv” roundup; French prisoners of war; Volunteer and forced labor in the Reich. How does this examination of a difficult past help us to confront our own difficult and traumatic history?

The Holocaust: “The Twisted Road to Auschwitz”

This presentation focuses on the cascading radicalization and evolution to genocide that took place from 1939-1945. We explore how Nazi policy incrementally evolved and adapted over time in the complex face of changing political, military, and social circumstances. Specific attention will be placed upon the Nazi racial laboratory of Poland 1939-1940. Topics to be covered include: Nazi ideology and 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; ghettos; General Plan Ost and the Commissar Order; the Wannsee Conference; the Einsatzgruppen and the so-called “Final Solution.” By exploring individual initiative of “working towards the Führer” we will examine the “moral universe” created by willing perpetrators.

(For advanced classes.)

Pre-presentation reading assignments:

Fr. Patrick Desbois Investigates the Forgotten Holocaust

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?”

The Human Problem of Genocide

April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in the State of NH. What is required to recognize, deter and prevent genocide? What is genocide? 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 momentum? What can we do to make a difference? We will discuss the U.N. Genocide definition; genocide risk factors and warning signs. We will explore proactive and reactive responses. 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:

Bosnia-Hercegovina: Remembering Genocide

As the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, Yugoslavia unraveled in the face of Serbian and Croatian nationalism. Slobodan Milošević and Serb nationalists took advantage of the situation to embark upon a project of creating a “Greater Serbia” as Croatia sought to expand into a “Greater Croatia.” The wars unleashed “ethnic cleansing” and genocide. What forces were at play to enable another series of European mass atrocity crimes? How did the shadow of WW II influence nationalists? What role did the United States, the United Nations, and the European Community play in enabling these crimes? What can we learn about the process of genocide and our responsibility to intervene and prevent? This presentation explores the multi-ethnically informed city of Sarajevo and Bosnia; the unfolding process of genocide; nationalist ideologies; Islamophobia (which continues to limit understanding, responsibility, and justice); the challenge of memory and remembrance; and how the Dayton Peace Accords created a corrupt, enthno-nationalist partitioned Bosnia.

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:

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:

Professional Development and In-Service Workshops

Teaching the Holocaust & Genocide: Remembrance, Education, Building Resiliency

Genocide is an extraordinary event, but the product of ordinary human behavior. How and why must we confront the past? This workshop provides guiding thoughts to navigate difficult issues utilizing frameworks for civic education that promotes competencies for democratic citizenship. What should we teach and how should we teach it? The methodological considerations we explore can be applied to any social studies or English curriculum. We will examine process, choice, and prevention. We will explore the pedagogical and contemporary challenges and considerations facing today’s classroom teacher. How do we confront the past to build resiliency, create safe spaces, while paying attention to escalating violence towards an “other”?

Dehumanization and Incitement: The Use and Abuse of Holocaust Photographs and Images

Photographs do not merely capture or illustrate the historical past, they interpret it. A potential pitfall in teaching about the Holocaust is using Holocaust imagery without ever teaching students how to evaluate and decode those images. As many of our students’ encounters with the Holocaust will often be visual (and a visual memory that is shaped by collective memory) it is important to recognize that the majority of images from the Holocaust have been taken and framed by the perpetrator. These images were carefully constructed and passed through censors and/or were shaped by Nazi protocols. Nazi photographers were designated as “weapons” of the Nazi effort and their images continue to have power to shape the narrative in ways that serve the perpetrator. We must recognize that the photographs are part of the process of genocide. We must critically evaluate this evidence as much as we do written or oral material. This workshop uses a series of competency expectations such as: recognizing perspective; intentionally; social, political context; elements of composition; expanding the frame; in order to apply these competencies today. Students will be able to deconstruct imagery while developing a sense of the “moral universe” perpetrators operate in.

Teaching Anne Frank: Resistance and Keeping the Moral Core

How do we “remember” and teach about Anne Frank? What are the contexts and pitfalls to be aware of? How do we keep our moral integrity when dealing with Anne as “symbol” and icon? How do we avoid teaching the diary as fairy tale or fable? The life and decisions of the Frank family (such as emigration and going into hiding) are placed within the context of the Nazi era. Otto Frank’s failed attempt to get his two children (Margot and Anne) into the United States is highlighted. This presentation also traces the family’s history after their betrayal in the Secret Annex. How can we draw on the example of the rescuers and of the Franks themselves?

Teaching Elie Wiesel: Trauma, Remembrance and Hope

How does one approach Elie Wiesel’s workand witness in the classroom? This workshop presents Night as a constructed memoir, a crafted testimony; a matzeva (marker/gravestone) about the limits of witnessing and “surviving survival”. 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. 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. How does Night help us to “hold” someone else’s traumatic memory? How will reading this book make me a better person? How will Night allow us “to fence with the shadows, but always have the song”? This workshop looks at the construction of Night; the questions it raises; its Hasidic framework; and how to teach it as the beginning of a journey against despair.

Printable List of Presentations and In-Service Workshops

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

To Schedule a Presentation or Professional Training In-Service Workshop

Contact Tom White

Tom White
Coordinator of Educational Outreach

Contact the Cohen Center

Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Keene State College

229 Main Street

Keene, NH 03435-3201
☎ 603-358-2490