Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Holocaust Studies
Mary Ann Wilson
Psychology (Honors) 12th Grade
Time Frame:
2-3 days (45 min. class periods
Nazi Germany

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Cooperative Learning assignment


We study ethics and morality as part of our lessons in moral development (Kolhberg). This is an extension into the Holocaust unit to allow the student to rationalize actions made (or not made) during a genocide.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world


Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

"Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior" pgs. 313-316
Video-"A Good Man in Hell-Gen. Romeo Dallaire and the Rwandan Genocide"

Technology Required:

DVD/VCR, Overhead projector or Post-It Style Easel Board

Full description of activity or assignment.

Lesson Plan War Crimes and Tribunals Conference


Lesson Part One

1. Reminder of previous lesson(s) on the choices made by the various players discussed through these lessons: Jews, Nazis, etc.
2. Ask-what was the driving forces behind their choices?
(Survival, protection of loved ones, selfishness, hatred, greed, power…)
3. Reintroduce the concepts of Kohlberg's theory from previous lessons and apply question 2 to the stages of Kohlberg as a means of reviewing the lesson.

Lesson Part Two

1. Read "Police Battalion 101" and examine the choices of the major who is leading the battalion.
2. Divide the class into groups and have each group answer the following questions:

a. How does he present the task of the elimination of the town's Jews to his troops?
b. What alternatives does he offer his men as he presents the task?
c. Examine the age of the men in battalion. How do you think this affected their response?
d. What is the major's response once all orders are given and why do you think he reacted in such a manner?
e. What does he do, as the day progresses, to make sure his men complete the task? Why?
f. What consequences do you think there are (beyond the obvious-the deaths of so many people) that will need to be dealt with?

Lesson Part Three

Once again-groundwork needs to be have already been done. This lesson must NOT be just thrown out without the proper preparation done prior to presentation.

Information on the background on the Rwandan genocide must have already been taught prior to either part of the lesson so that the students will have the appropriate comparative knowledge to complete the lesson.

1. Have the students view the brief video on Romeo Dallaire "A Good Man in Hell: Gen. Romeo Dallaire and the Rwandan Genocide."

2. Once again, in the groups (you can use the same ones or mix them up), discuss the following questions:

a. What options did Dallaire have as he faced the genocide of Rwanda?
b. What choices did he make and why did he make them?
c. What options did he have beyond those he was given? What were the consequences of those options?
d. What does the title of the video mean-"A Good Man in Hell"?

Lesson Part Four
Formal Assessment

1. Which do you think is the better man? Why? In a critical analysis, compare and contrast the two. Examine their actions and the long-term consequences of their choices. Defend your answer based upon valid and viable reasons.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:


The assignment is based on whether or not the student debates the issue rather than on a right or wrong answer. Each teacher will need to create their own assessment based on the depth of difficulty they wish to assess. With my students, I am asking for analysis of the issues so the assessment will reflect this:

  Possible Points Received Points
Discusses the Major's viewpoints analytically, rationally, and concisely 20  
Discusses Dallaire's viewpoints analytically, rationally, and concisely 20  
Compares the two men and draws analytical conclusions based upon the student's defendable reasons 25  
Uses correct grammar 15  
Uses correct spelling 10  
Citation of sources 10  
Total points 100