Students will discuss why the United States failed to provide significant support to European Jews fleeing the Nazis during World War II – sorting and prioritizing reasons in groups.

Pages: 5 pages + 7 slides

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With this lesson, students will have a discussion surrounding the major reasons why the United States failed to provide more extensive support to European Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis during World War II. The will work in groups to sort varying reasons related to the U.S.’s failure and make decisions as to the most pressing reasons to explain that failure.

This lesson was inspired by a viewing of the PBS documentary the U.S. and the Holocaust. In a U.S. history class, the standards typically have students examine more of the U.S. response. While the documentary was way too in depth for middle school, this lesson breaks down the main ideas of the documentary in a more accessible way.

Included in this resource:

  • 1 page handout (Google Slides, PDF, and PowerPoint)
  • A PowerPoint and Google Slides Version of the slideshow (classroom and digital versions)
  • 18 image conversations cards along with a category page (Google Slides, PDF, and PowerPoint)
  • A lesson plan with guidance for implementation

This lesson addresses the following NYS Social Studies Standards:

8.6b.5 – Student will examine the role of New Yorkers in World War II, focusing on local institutions, such as the Fort Ontario Refugee Center or the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

8.6.c.2 – Students will investigate the Holocaust and explain the historical significance of the Nuremberg trials.


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