Course developed by Marion Seftel, Senior History Teacher and Sandy Hollis, Studies of Religion and Jewish Studies Teacher, Masada College.

Masada College is a coeducational Orthodox Jewish Day School in Sydney’s northern suburbs catering for children from preschool to Year 12. The School has developed a compulsory course in Jewish Studies for students in Years 7-10. A component of the course is a program teaching the Holocaust for students in Year 10. A key feature is the ‘Living Historians’ Project whereby students interview and take oral history from a survivor of the Holocaust. The program makes use of a variety of primary and secondary source materials including website sources. Students are able to investigate primary evidence at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

The program is easily adapted to the “Investigating History” topic in Mandatory History Stages 4 and 5 and “Constructing History” in History Elective Stages 4 and 5.



JSH1 identify the forces and key events that set the scene for Hitler’s rise to power.
JSH2 describe life in Germany for Jews 1933 to 1938
JSH3 explain the events that led to the outbreak of the war
JSH4 describe the Nazi regime’s treatment of Jews 1939-1941; 1942-1945
JSH5 identify resistors and key events of resistance
JSH6 describe Liberation and evaluate key events in seeking justice
JSH7 evaluate the universal and contemporary lessons of the Holocaust
JSH8 identify a variety of source materials and evaluate their usefulness for specific information related to the history and experience of the Holocaust
JSH9 identify different perspectives and interpretations of the past

Time Allocation: 60 hours. Three hours over a ten-day cycle in Terms I and II.

Skills Development

• the skills to undertake the process of historical inquiry
• the skills to communicate their understanding of history

Historical skills integrated into this topic:

  • sequence events within a specific period of time
  • use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts
  • identify primary and secondary sources
  • distinguish between fact and opinion
  • examine the actions, motives, values and attitudes of people from the past
  • draw conclusions about the usefulness of sources for a historian, including a website
  • identify perspectives of different individuals and groups
  • locate, select and organise information from a variety of sources including ICT
  • communicate effectively using oral, written, computer based or other forms appropriate to an historical investigation.

Site Study: The Sydney Jewish Museum.

Unit 1 Discrimination | Number of Hours: 15

Unit Outcomes: JSH1; JSH2; JSH7; JSH8; JSH9
Subject Matter

Treaty of Versailles – key features to set the scene for Hitler’s rise to power.

  • Who was Hitler?
  • Germany 1933
  • Nuremberg Laws
  • Kristallnacht 1938

Teaching and Learning Activities

Develop a timeline, “Loss of Rights and Freedoms” 1933-1943. Commence in this Unit and continue through the course.

Students commence “Glossary of Terms” and maintain through course.

Teacher facilitates analysis of Treaty of Versailles; write key points

Who was Hitler? Small group research; “Mein Kampf” extracts.

What was life like for Jews in Germany 1933-38?
Individual research using a variety of sources: document study, newspapers, cartoons, photographs, antisemitic literature, and websites. Class discussion evaluating usefulness of particular sources.

1935 Nuremberg Laws – identifying key points and their implications.
“What were the essential requirements of a citizen in the Third Reich”?
Document Study: “Laws for the Protection of German Blood and Honour”, “Reich Citizenship Law”
(source Gelski, Teaching the Holocaust p15-6)

Rabbi Leo Baeck’s Prayer Oct 1935 – students’ individual reflection and response.

Small groups develop “causation chart” for the Nazi pogrom,Kristallnacht; source analysis to show “precision planning rather than an outburst of anger”

Students research statistics relating to Jews who left Germany after Kristallnacht. In small groups create mind map of why some stayed and some left.

Assessment: Diary Entries – One week of a life in Germany – 1935.
Poem/newspaper article – Kristallnacht

Empathy exercise: You are living in Berlin. Write a letter to a member of your family living in America.

Unit 2 Ghettoisation | Number of Hours: 15

Unit Outcomes: JSH3; JSH4; JSH5; JSH6; JSH7; JSH8; JSH9
Subject Matter

• Overview: annexation of Austria; Kristallnacht, annexation of Czechoslovakia, the outbreak of the war; invasion of Poland
• Life in the ghettos
• The Judenrat, forced labour
• Comparative study between Lodz and Warsaw
• The Einsatzgruppen
• Jewish responses

Teaching and Learning Activities

Continue Timeline, maintain glossary.

Teacher outlines the key events from the Anschluss 1938 to the outbreak of war in 1939 (demands on the Sudetenland, Munich Agreement, annexation of Czechoslovakia, demands on Poland) – note making

Discussion: invasion of Poland; research statistics on Jewish population in Poland

Class discussion: Hitler’s strategy of Ghettos. What was life like in the ghetto? Pair research using a variety of sources: document study, newspapers, cartoons, photographs, antisemitic literature, and personal accounts. Class discussion to evaluate usefulness of particular sources.

Examine maps of ghettos. Empathy exercise: individually students keep a record of their meals and their living space for a 24-hour period. Compare with ghetto food, and living space.

Discuss Judenrat (Jewish Councils), forced labour.
Students prepare responses to ethical dilemmas; Chaim Rumkowski “a murderer?” Adam Czerniakov “courageous or cowardly”, Janusz Korczak “selflessness”. Movies “Korczak” and “Ambulance”; how effective are they in conveying the dilemmas faced by these men?

Excursion to Sydney Jewish Museum: examination of primary evidence and secondary source material, both textual and visual. Which was more effective in evoking an empathetic response? In which of the exhibits did you experience a sense of dislocation and/or discomfort? Why so?

Students provide individual responses to poem Maurice Ogden’s “The Hangman”. Why is this poem pertinent to individual rights and freedoms? How can the poem be related to the events in Nazi Germany?

Class discussion the operations of the Einsatzgruppen. Analyse source material; personal accounts; examine photographs for evidence. Evaluate source material.
Discuss ‘shortcomings of the Einsatzgruppen and the need for an alternative strategy.
What happened at Babi Yar? Individual and group responses to poem “Babi Yar”.


Analyse the literary devices and discuss the poem Babi Yar. Evaluate its effectiveness as a statement against the horror of the Nazi regime.


Research and discuss the Judenrat and their functioning –did they serve the ghetto communities or the Nazis?
Write your own poem describing the work of the Einsatzgruppen

Unit 3 Annihilation and Resistance | Number of hours: 15

Unit Outcomes: JSH4, JSH5, JSH7, JSH8, JSH9
Subject Matter

  • ‘The Final Solution’ and the Death Camps
  • Righteous Among the Nations
  • Resistance
  • The Death Marches

Teaching and Learning Activities

Continue Timeline and maintain Glossary of Terms

Teacher-led outline of the AKTION T4 program and the mobile death vans.
Class discussion the Wansee Conference 1942. Investigation of variety of source materials

Map study – location of Death Camps

Students study documents that illustrate the responses of people who actively participated in the Final Solution e.g. ‘Letters from SS- Obersturmfuhrer Karl Kretschmer’ (source- Gelski, Teaching the Holocaust p58)

Detailed study of Auschwitz; Pair research using a variety of sources: document study, newspapers, cartoons, photographs, antisemitic literature, and personal accounts; extracts from “Night” Elie Wiesel Video Interview Oprah Winfrey and Elie Wiesel.

Class examines photographic evidence; discussion of usefulness as a document study, evidence.

Video “Kitty Hart Returns to Auschwitz”

Class discussion “The Righteous Among Nations” and Heroism. “What ethical sensibility drives some people to choose this course of action, while others do nothing?” Using a variety of sources, students in small groups research one of the following and each group presents to class: Raoul Wallenberg, Chiune Sugihara, Oskar Schindler.

Students explore the question: Why was there little resistance from the Jews? Brainstorming obstacles to resistance. Mordechai Anielewitz: Students consider the choices he faced. Students investigate the Warsaw Uprising – document study and website search. Students view video “Uprising”. What did the Warsaw Uprising achieve?

Using a variety of sources, students research the Lodz ghetto.

Video ‘Escape from Sobibor’ and consider the ethical dilemmas.

What were the Death Marches? Students research personal accounts (e.g. Elie Wiesel)
Report to class. Class discussion.


Oral presentation of photograph. Explain what it shows, why it was chosen; its effectiveness as source material and its usefulness as evidence.


Research two examples of Resistance during the Holocaust.
“Whoever saves a single life is as one who has saved an entire world” (The Talmud)

Unit 4 Liberation, Lessons of the Holocaust | Number of Hours: 15

Outcomes: JSH4, JSH5, JSH6, JSH7, JSH8, JSH9
Subject Matter

  • Liberation
  • The Nuremberg Trials
  • The Eichmann Trial
  • Remembering the Holocaust: Living Historians Project
    Concept of Genocide

Teaching and Learning Activities

Complete Glossary of Terms.

Liberation: What did the allies find? Students use a variety of source materials and evaluate their effectiveness.

Plight of Survivors: students use a variety of source materials and evaluate their effectiveness. Student reflection: Why do you think it important for Survivors to tell their stories?

The Nuremberg Trials: Internet research.

Trial of Adolf Eichmann- website research. Students reflect on the question of responsibility.

Living Historian Project: Collaborate with Sydney Jewish Museum; students in groups interview Survivor/ ‘Living Historian’. Compile a Report using a form appropriate to a historical investigation and create an oral presentation appropriate to your audience.

Discuss the concept of Genocide. Discuss the issue of intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state. List Genocides of the twentieth century. Debate the topic: “It is our obligation to act globally.”

Discussion, “Why do you think it is important for future generations to know about the Holocaust?”


“Living Historian Project”
Students read a book set in the time of the Holocaust and present a book review

(i) orally to class
(ii) as a written report.


‘The Holocaust: The World and the Jews’ Rossel, Seymour Behrman House 1994
‘The Holocaust: The World and the Jews’ Teachers’ Guide
Atlas of the Holocaust, Gilbert, Martin, Elsevier Science and Technology Books 1988
‘Teaching the Holocaust’ Years 9-12, Gelski Sophie, Sydney Jewish Museum 2003
Sydney Jewish Museum – Resource Centre

Internet Resources all accessed 30/04/2005

Babi Yar

Rabbi Leo Baeck’s prayer

‘Australian Memories of the Holocaust’

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, United States Holocaust Museum

Lodz Ghetto Simon Wiesenthal Multimedia Learning Center ONLINE

Israel and Jewish Studies, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

HSC course notes, Jewish educators’ site Academy BJE, NSW Board of Jewish Education

There is a wealth of material available on websites.


‘Ambulance’ Director, Janusz Morgenstern, Poland, 1962
Escape from Sobibor’ Directed by Jack Gold, 1987
‘Schindler’s List’ Directed by Stephen Spielberg, 1993
Kitty Hart returns to Auschwitz’, 1979
Korczak’, Director Anrzej Wajda, 1990
Video ‘Oprah’s cut and Elie Wiesel’ Interview
Europa,Europa’ director Agnieszka Holland, 1991
The Music Box’, Directed by Costa Gavras, 1989
NBC series “Uprising”.

This teaching program was first published in Teaching History, The Journal of the History Teachers’ Association of NSW.