Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Displaced Persons in the Aftermath of World War II
Author:
Valerie Schrag
Course:
Modern World History
Time Frame:
One 90 minute class period
Subjects:
Displaced Persons
,
Middle East

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • The students will examine the experiences of Jewish displaced persons in the years immediately following World War II.  They will explore photographs and primary source documents related to the DP camps in Europe, building a foundation to be used in an upcoming lesson on the creation of the state of Israel (1948).

Rationale:

This lesson will provide an important bridge between two lessons I already use.  The first is my lesson on the Holocaust and the second is a lesson on the creation of the state of Israel, viewed from both the Israeli and Arab perspectives (and created at a previous Truman Library teacher conference).  This lesson will create an important bridge between these two lessons and provide important context for understanding the 1948 creation of the state of Israel.  In addition, this lesson will enhance the students’ understanding of the post-World War II period (both in Europe and in the Middle East), which in turn will help them to understand the historical context of current discussions related to the Middle East and Holocaust education.

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


  • Kansas State History and Government Standards – High School Modern World History; Topics: The World at War (1910-1950) and The Cold War and Beyond (1945-present)
  • Common Core Standards - CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
  • Common Core Standards - CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9: Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
  • Common Core Standards - CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6: Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Glencoe World History, Chapter 26, Section 3 “The New Order and the Holocaust,” and Chapter 30, Section 2 “Conflict in the Middle East”
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Postwar Refugee Crisis and the Establishment of the State of Israel,” article from the online Holocaust Encyclopedia, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005459

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

Full description of activity or assignment.
  1. As homework the night before this lesson, have the students read the Holocaust Encyclopedia article entitled “Postwar Refugee Crisis and the Establishment of the State of Israel.”  They should also review chapter 26, section 2 and chapter 30, section 2 in their Glencoe World History textbooks.
  2. Divide the students into groups of 4-6.
  3. Hand out a selection of photographs from the attached PowerPoint, entitled “Images of Life in the Displaced Persons Camps.”  The photos will be printed out, allowing you to vary the number of photographs used based upon the abilities present in the class.  Ask the students to analyze the photographs using the following questions. (FYI – each group should receive a different set of photographs.)
    1. Describe the photograph (what is happening, people, etc.).
    2. Is this photograph “natural” or “staged”?  How do you know?
    3. What is the message (or main idea) of this photograph?  Can you detect any bias?  Explain.
    4. What post-war priorities are reflected in this photo? (Possible answers could include resettlement, education, starting families, medical care, religious ceremonies, etc.)
  4. Briefly discuss the themes & priorities evident in the photos with the entire class. What did they see in these images that help them to understand life for those who had survived the Holocaust?
  5. Next, give each group a folder with a copy of each of the primary sources mentioned above.  Have each student in the group select a document (or documents) to read.  The students should read the document(s) individually and prepare to summarize the document(s) to the other members of the group.  Allow up to 15 minutes for the reading and analysis of the documents. The students should be prepared to answer the following questions about their documents.
    1. Main idea of the document, including 2 examples in support of the main idea.
    2. What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?
    3. Is the document controversial in any way?  Describe.
    4. Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.
    5. How did this document help you understand the experiences of persons living in the displaced persons (DP) camps after World War II?
  6. Once the students have read the documents, have them share their observations with the other members of their group.  The students should complete the chart on the next page as the group discusses the documents.  Finally, on a separate sheet of paper they together should compose a summary paragraph about life in the displaced persons camps after World War II. 
  7. Once the groups have finished their analyses of the documents and completed the chart, bring the class together.  Have the groups share their summary paragraphs and observations with the class as a whole.  Identify similarities and differences in their analyses and brainstorm explanations for these similarities and/or differences.  Be sure to ask them to share their unexpected discoveries, as those discoveries help them to delve more deeply into the complexity of the time period.
  8. Conclude by asking the class to think how the experiences of persons in the DP camps contributed to: the creation of the state of Israel, how his/her experiences in the DP camps shaped the remainder of his/her life, what YOU (the student) would want after having lived in the DP camps, etc.  Use your creativity to have this conversation with your students.
  9. Collect the charts at the end of class.

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

 

Photograph Analysis

Displaced Persons in the Aftermath of World War II

 

 

 

Describe the photograph (what is happening, people, etc.)

Is the photo “natural” or “staged?”  How do you know?

What is the message (main idea) of this photo?  Can you detect any bias? Explain.

What post-war priorities are reflected in this photo?

 

 

 

Photograph #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph #4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph #5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document Analysis

Displaced Persons in the Aftermath of World War II

 

 

Document: Yoysef Raykh, “Belkhatov Without Jews”

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?

 

 

 

 

Document: British Statement on Palestine (August 1, 1946)

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?

 

Document: Bernard Gotfryd, “Reunions”

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?

 

 

 

 

Document: Lucille Eichengreen, “Displaced Person’s Camp”

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?

 

 

 

Document: Unzer Sztyme (Our Voice) (1945)

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?

 

 

 

 

Document: The Truman Directive (December 22, 1945)

 

Main Idea:

 

 

Ex. 1:

 

Ex. 2:

 

 

What perspective or bias is reflected in this document?  Is there any missing information?

 

 

 

Is this document controversial in any way?  Describe.

 

 

 

Did anything in this document surprise you or was unexpected?  Explain.

 

 

 

How did this document help you to understand the experiences of persons living in the DP camps?