Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Nuremberg Trials: Who Should be put on Trial?
Patti Winkler
8th Grade Social Studies
Time Frame:
5 class periods (45 minutes each)
Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Interactive Lecture and Individual Assignments


The curriculum emphasizes cause and effect relationships to better understand history (1850-2005). The Nuremberg trials are a perfect example.

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

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

KANSAS STANDARDS(History-8th Grade)

Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills

1. (A) examines a topic in United States history to analyze changes over time and makes logical inferences concerning cause and effect.

4. (A) compares contrasting descriptions of the same event in United States history to understand how people differ in their interpretations of historical events.

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

Video, American Justice-War Crimes, produced by Nugus/Martin Productions.

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/nuremberg.htm http://www.trumanlibrary.org  for background information on individuals and events.


UMKC Law Review, Fall 1996, page 1-7, Nuremberg-50 years.

Technology Required:

TV ad DVD Player, Power Point

Full description of activity or assignment.

This lesson will be scheduled directly following our study of WWII. The first day will begin with a very quick review of WWII. Pull the ideas that the war was not just with Germany and the names of leaders. Show the first section of the video. Discuss the portion of the tape. Make a list of all of the German leaders (write on the overhead or board so students can spell each name). Students should leave 1/3-1/2 page for each name. Students should use text books, books and magazines from the school library as well as the web to find information about 1 of the people listed. Divide the names so several people have each one. When the information-gathering stage is completed (1 class period), group the students so each group of 5-6 has at least one person reporting on each leader. Information about each leader is quickly taught to the rest of the group. Play a game toward the end of the hour to ensure everyone has the essential material (using candy or extra credit as rewards, I ask open ended questions about each individual. Students can then fill in any holes.)

Show the next section of the video, stop after the Rules of The Nuremberg Trials. Discuss (either as a class or have partners discuss the main points listed on the overhead/board) what things or items we might find in a typical US courtroom. Suggestions: gavel, robes, judge, witness stand, flag, etc. Ask for guesses of what items might be in the Nuremberg Trials setting. If a daily assignment is needed, students should summarize the rules set down for the trials.

Part 2

Use a Power Point presentation as the students are entering and for the first several minutes of class. Pictures and very sparse information of the Major League Players in the Trials will be on each slide. Another beginning activity is to have 2 people not typically sitting together to give a few facts about one of the players or even quiz another student.

Watch the 3rd section of the video. Question, point out, emphasize parts of the action (What exactly did he mean? Why is the room set up the way it is?). Students should write 5-10 thoughts about the video (the thoughts are not just facts, but an analysis of the facts).

Using the UMKC Law Review packets, read together. Emphasize Jackson's first 5 paragraphs. Depending on the students, some parts might be better summarized for the students.

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

Assessment: This is a take-home test.

Respond in complete thoughts and sentences:

1. Why were the Trials set?

2. How did the Trials come about?

3. What were the requirements for being a War Crimes Trial?

4. What were the outcomes? Were they fair?

5. What and how would you change the Trials? Be specific!

Scoring Guide For Assessment:

Each question will be worth 10 points. The facts are important, but I'm looking for the students to have assimilated the overall picture.