Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

World War II Camps
Darren Griffin
US History
Time Frame:
3-4 class periods
World War II

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Group presentations based on research using provided primary and secondary sources.

  • Students are exposed to several types of camps during lessons on World War II.  This lesson will help them understand the similarities and differences between these types of camps.

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

CLE 3a—X (State Standards) Examine the wars of the twentieth-century pertinent to US history including:  causes, comparisons, consequences and peace efforts.

NCSS II d. (National Standards) Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

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

Displaced Persons Camps—Secondary Source



Death Camps—Secondary Source:



Concentration Camps—Secondary Source **See related articles, too.



Japanese-American Internment Camps—Secondary Source



Prisoner of War Camps WWII—Secondary Source


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

Death Camps—Primary Source:



Concentration Camps—Primary Source



Japanese-American Internment Camps—Primary Source


Prisoner of War Camps WWII (Philippines)—Primary Source



Displaced Persons Camp—Primary Source


Full description of activity or assignment.

The teacher will divide the class into 5 groups.  Each group will be responsible for researching and giving a powerpoint presentation on one of the World War II camps.  Assign each group one of the five types of camps:

1.) Concentration Camps,
2.) Death Camps,
3.) POW Camps,
4.) Japanese-American Internment Camps,
5.) Displaced Persons Camps.


The students should read the primary and secondary sources provided above for their assigned camp as well as locate additional information and/or images that may be necessary to complete the assignment.


The students should use the information they have read to prepare a powerpoint presentation.  This presentation should answer the following essential questions as well as include at least three relevant images. 


Essential Questions:

1.)  What types of people were placed in these camps?

2.)  Why were they placed in these camps?

3.)  What were conditions like in these camps?

4.)  What would have to happen in order for the prisoners to be liberated from these camps?

5.)  What would those in the camps do to mentally and physically survive? (Be specific.)


After the presentations, all students should choose two of the camps to compare and contrast.  (They cannot use the type of camp that they were assigned.)  They should use a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast using the guidelines in the scoring guide.

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







3: Question completely answered using information (textual or inferential) from the assigned sources






2: Question completely answered but lacks references to the assigned sources






1: Question partially answered with or without references to the assigned sources.






0: Lacking info












Presentation is clear to read and free from distracting grammar or spelling errors

Presentation is clear to read but may contain distracting grammar or spelling errors

Presentation may be difficult to read and/or contains several distracting grammar or spelling errors

Presentation is extremely difficult to read and contains many distracting grammar or spelling errors

Presentation was always easy to hear and understand

Presentation was usually easy to hear and understand

Presentation was sometimes easy to hear and understand

Presentation was never easy to hear and understand

Presentation contained at least 3 relevant images

Presentation contained at least 2 relevant images

Presentation contained at least 1 relevant image

Presentation contained no relevant images


Venn Diagram

Diagram Labeled




Differences listed in same order (congruent)





6:Solid Content 6 or more items

3: Content Weak and/or only 3-5 items

1:Content Lacking and/or only 1-2 items