Audience: Middle- and high-school students
Activity: The lesson plan is suitable for use in the classroom, and implements videos in a variety of techniques for teaching and for study. It includes various levels of learning processes: video watching, using visual literacy and listening comprehension; classroom discussion; work in the full-class forum; and connecting historical information with testimony from a survivor.
- Students will learn about major event of the 1930s, while integrating the survivor's personal testimony.
- Students will map out the historical events on a timeline.
Encountering Holocaust Survivor Zvi Aviram
If the teaching is interested in expanding on his story, or if the students ask, the following is a brief overview of Aviram's story:
Zvi Aviram Abrahamsohn was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1927. With the Nazi rise to power, his family suffered from persecution and from the limitations imposed on Jews, and his father lost his livelihood. Zvi was expelled from public school and transferred to a Jewish school. His sister was sent on the Kindertransport to England and from there to Australia. Beginning in March 1941 Berlin Jews were ordered to perform forced labor, and Zvi was forced to work at an arms factory. In 1943 his parents were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Zvi remained on his own, and lived in hiding. He joined two underground groups - the "Pioneer Circle" and the Communist underground. As part of his underground activity he distributed anti-Nazi propaganda on the streets of Berlin, and was arrested by the Nazis. After the war, Zvi worked as part of the Jewish Agency, and was active in aiding immigrants to Israel as part of the "Habricha" emmigration movement from Europe. Zvi immigrated to Israel in 1948. He married Esther and they have three children.
Immediately after the Nazi rise to power in 1933, Jews in Germany began suffering from violence, terror and anti-Jewish legislation.
Have the students watch the short video about the lives of Jews in Germany. While watching, they should write down the major events affecting German Jewry, ahead of the next activities.
Along with the students, the teacher will place the events the students had collected on a timeline. Each event on the timeline is accompanied by a photo and a short explanation. Some of the events are accompanied by segments from Zvi's testimony.
The Nazi Rise to Power - January 1933
The rise of the Nazi Party was made possible due to social and political circumstances which had formed in Germany beween the two world wars. In elections which were conducted in Germany 1932, the "National Socialist German Workers' Party" became the single largest party, wielding significant political power. President Paul von Hindenburg granted Hitler the mandate to form a government, and appointed Hitler Chancellor. In January 30, 1933, Hitler took power.
Aryanization - 1933-1939
Process of confiscating Jewish property and removing Jews from the German economy, which took place by transferring Jewish-owned businesses to German "Aryans" in the Third Reich. In 1938, this process became considerably more severe.
April 1933 - Anti-Jewish Boycott
A one-day boycott of Jewish businesses which was announced by leaders of the Nazi Party. Uniformed Nazi guards were posted outside Jewish stores, businesses and offices, preventing customers from entering. This boycott was the first nationwide action against the Jews follwoing the Nazi rise to power.
The "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" - April 1933
This law was enacted to place limitations on Jewish freedom and to expel them economically. In accordance with the law, many Jews were fired from public positions.
Nuremberg Laws - September 1935
These racist laws, which were defined as Reich laws, led to the revoking of citizenship of German Jews, forming the basis for further anti-Jewish policies later on.
Summer Olympics - August 1936
Due to the Olympics taking place in Berlin, the German government ordered the cessation of informal acts of harming Jews. For German Jewry, this caused a temporary illusion of calm.
"Anschluss" - Annexation of Austria - March 1938
After the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, persecution against Jews intensified.
Evian Conference - July 1938
An important conference that convened in France, with 32 countries attending. Its goal was to find a soution that would ease German and Austrian Jews' emmigration. In practice, none of the countries attending were willing to open its border for these Jews.
The November 1938 Pogrom ("Kristallnacht", "Night of Broken Glass") - November 9-10, 1938
Mass pogrom against the Jews, ordered by the Nazi Party. During the pogrom, hundreds of synagogues were burned, thousands of Jewish stored and homes attacked, some 100 Jews were murdered, and tens of thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps.
After the events are placed on the timeline, the teacher should stress to the students the worsening situation for German Jewry, their expulsion from economic activity and the revoking of their citizenship. The teacher will then examine two central events with the students, duscussing their influences and consequences for the fates of German Jewry - the Nuremberg Laws and the 1938 Pogrom.
The students will watch the animated video describing the Nurember Laws, hear Zvi Aviram's testimony, and then answer the discussion questions.
It's important to discuss with the students that, in order to understand the situation of the Jews in Germany, we should examine each point in time as it occured , and not in hindsight, were we know the end of the "story." The relationship of German Jews to their country, and their understanding of the difficult situation they were in, took place in Germany of 1935 - not May 1945, at war's end. As we have seen, many of these Jews had had deep roots in German society, and felt very much a part of it.
During the two years between Hitler's rise to power and the Nuremberg Laws, various other laws were enacted that further pushed Jews away from every social circle. Still, the Nuremberg Laws were particularly extreme, since they revoked all of the Jews civil rights. Because of this many Jews thought, believed and hoped that this was the worst that would happen; that their legal status had finally been formalized and that, severe though it was, they could now conduct themselves freely within these constraints, narrow though they were. Because of this, many still opted to remain in Germany.
Students will watch the animated video describing the November 1938 Pogrom, hear Zvi Aviram's testimony, and then answer the discussion questions
At the time, the November 1938 Pogrom was the peak of an entire process that had begun with the Nazi's rise to power. In 1938, Nazi policies reached their own apexes in two major spheres of action - Germany's foreign policy, and its anti-Jewish policies. Germany claimed for itself more territories, and began to pose an existential threat for Reich Jewry. Here there was no more legilation or removal of rights, but a major violation of the relationship of the establishment towards the Jews. As Hitler and the Nazi Party realized that their totalitarian ambitions had gone largely unchecked by most of the western countries, they simultaneously understood that worsening steps against the Jews wouldn't be greatly opposed. Hitler's hopes that the pogrom would go entirely without condemnation from western countries didn't materialize completely, but nevertheless, this didn't prevent him from further pursuing his plans for finding what he considered a suitable "solution" to the "Jewish question."
Following the 1938 Pogrom, many German Jews tried to escape the country, but by this stage emigration had become difficult and complex. Most countries would not accept Jewish refugees.
Nevertheless, by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, roughly half of Germany's Jews had managed to escape the country.
Many of these would later be captured by Germany, as their target countries fell to German consquest during the war.