Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Nuremberg Trials
Robert Hadley
US History
Time Frame:
2 class periods (60 minute periods)
Nazi Germany
Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
World War II

Grade Levels:
11, 12


This lesson will fit into my post war unit right before we get into the Cold War. The purpose of teaching about Nuremberg is two fold, first to talk about how the World was changing in relationship to dealing with this type of crime and as set up the looming conflict with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

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

  • NSS-WH.5-12.9- How post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up. The search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.
  • NHS World Era 8 Standard 4- The causes and global consequences of World War II
  • NHS US Era 8 Standard 3- The causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs

Oregon CIM Benchmarks:

  • Understand the division of Europe after WWII leading to the Cold War.
  • Understand the impact of the Cold War on individuals, groups and nations.


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 (High School-US History)

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

1. (K) explains why the United States emerged as a superpower as the result of World War II.

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.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

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

The Nuremberg Trials by John and Ann Tusa
Nazi Medicine And The Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes To Informed Consent: Paul Weindling
The Holocaust: Bearing Witness Liberation and the Nuremberg Trials: Stuart A. Kallen
The Nuremberg Trials: Earle Rice

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Technology Required:

Access to Media Center, Internet Connection

Full description of activity or assignment.

This lesson is designed for two days. First, split your class into 13 teams (one for each trial at Nuremberg). Assign each team a trial that they will research and prepare two documents that will be due the following class. Have your class use the library and/or computer lab to conduct research on the first day using resources identified below. There are also many good books that could be of benefit as well in student research. Check with your media specialist in advance to have books ready for student research.

1. Case brief

a. Short summary of case (1-2 paragraphs)
b. Who was charged (VERY brief bio 1-2 sentences TOPS!)
c. What they were being charged with specifically
d. What facts and or evidence exists to implicate the accused (primary documents)
e. What the results of the trial were

*This should be at least ONE page in length and the team must make enough copies for every team and the teacher (so 14 in all)

2. Opening Statement speech

a. Student must write a short opening statement that emphasizes the importance of the trial and the charges being levied against the defendant.
b. Student must address and then deliver the speech on day two. Its best they assume the students are the Jury or the Judges as they were at Nuremberg.

*It's important to discuss the trials before starting this lesson, so it should not be taught in total isolation. It would be ideal after completing a Holocaust unit.

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

Assessment: A simple rubric for scoring presentations is below:

Category 4 3 2 1
Preparedness Student is completely prepared and has obviously rehearsed. Student seems pretty prepared but might have needed a couple more rehearsals. The student is somewhat prepared, but it is clear that rehearsal was lacking. Student does not seem at all prepared to present.
Content Shows a full understanding of the topic. Shows a good understanding of the topic. Shows a good understanding of parts of the topic. Does not seem to understand the topic very well.
Posture and eye contact Stands up straight, looks relaxed and confident. Establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation. Stands up straight and establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation. Sometimes stands up straight and establishes eye contact. Slouches and/or does not look at people during the presentation.
Volume Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members throughout the presentation. Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members at least 90% of the time. Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members at least 80% of the time. Volume often too soft to be heard by all audience members.
Speaks clearly Speaks clearly and distinctly all (100-95%) the time, and mispronounces no words. Speaks clearly and distinctly all (100-95%) the time, but mispronounces one word. Speaks clearly and distinctly most ( 94-85%) of the time. Mispronounces no more than one word. Often mumbles or can not be understood OR mispronounces more than one word.
Persuasion Speaks convincingly on the topic, using factual evidence to draw in the audience. Speaks convincingly on the topic, attempting to draw in the audience. Speaks on the topic. Makes little attempt to persuade. Doesn't speak on topic or attempt to persuade.