From persecution to liberation: What can individual experiences teach us about the Holocaust?

Unit Overview
This unit of work focuses on the persecution of minorities in Nazi Germany and the mass murder that resulted from this. The Holocaust is an emotive topic and one which is taught with great sensitivity at Chesterton. Students move from thought to judgment as they confront the moral questions inherent in a study of violence, racism and bigotry. Lessons provide a key chronological framework and an understanding of some of the historical debates among historians associated with the Holocaust.  Students reflect upon the series of racist policies that were introduced by the Nazis from 1933 and analyse the policy of genocide known as ‘The Final Solution’. They are encouraged to consider whether silence and indifference to the suffering of others in any society, can, however unintentionally, serve to perpetuate the problem and who should ultimately bear the blame for the Holocaust.

Expectations

By the end of this unit it is expected that some students will be able to understand how and why Nazis persecuted different groups in society. They will be able to identify the restrictions placed on minorities and explain the consequences of these restrictions. They will be able to assess how different people contributed to the Holocaust and why historians disagree over who was to blame.

Some students will not have made as much progress and will be able to identify how the Nazis persecuted different groups in society but may struggle to understand why. They may also find it difficult to understand why different interpretations of the Holocaust are held.

Some learners will have progressed further and will be able to investigate the impact of the restrictions placed on minorities within German society. They will be able to analyse links between racial policies and events and use historical terminology confidently, reflectively and critically. They will be able to argue why different interpretations are held and form a valid, well supported judgement on the accuracy of these interpretations.

How to help your child

There is a wealth of information on The Holocaust. There are many films for example ‘The Pianist’ and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and documentaries like ‘Auschwitz: The Nazis & The ‘Final Solution’ by Laurence Rees. However, we advise watching any films or documentaries first before showing them to your child to ascertain whether you feel they are suitable for viewing. There are many books that cover the Holocaust and depending upon your child’s reading ability you may consider buying any of the following; ‘The Promise’ by Eva Schloss, ‘Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust’ by Lyn Smith and ‘If I die before I wake’ by Han Nolan. Parents can help their child understand this topic a little better simply by discussing what their child has learned in class. Parents should encourage their child to form an opinion in order to allow them to contribute to class discussions and take part in debates.

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