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For Teachers & Students Intro to the Holocaust Genocide Resources About Kurt & Tessye Simon
For Teachers & Students

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The People Next Door – Questions for Discussion

1. Why did the German people come to support Hitler and the Nazis?

2. How could the Holocaust have been prevented by the German citizens?

3. What could other countries have done to prevent the Holocaust?

4. If you were Jewish, how could you have resisted the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jewish people?

5. What is your opinion of the US Government withholding Information about the holocaust from the American people? What difference could it have made if the Information were known?

6. What can you do to prevent future genocides?

7. Explore the difficult choices a democracy faces in determining the limits of dissent:

  • Should a civil rights group be allowed to hold a test march or a rally?
  • Should the same rights be given to the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, skinheads and other neo-Nazi groups?
  • What are the free speech rights of a former Nazi party member like David Duke, who ran for governor of Louisiana and sought the Republican nomination for President?

8. Students can research the Nazi party rally planned for Skokie, Illinois in 1977. Many Skokie residents, among whom were Nazi concentration camp survivors, opposed giving the Nazi party a permit to hold the rally. Town leaders obtained a court order banning the rally and passed local laws to stop it. The American Civil Liberties Union defended the Nazis right to assemble, arguing that stopping the march violated the Nazis’ First Amendment rights. Students can use the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature for 1977 and 1978 to find out more about this Incident.

9. Write on the board the following quotation from the British philosopher Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win is for good men to do nothing.” Ask students what this quote means. Have them suggest reasons why otherwise good people might not act when confronted with behavior that they know to be wrong.

10. Use the following poem, “The Hangman.” by Maurice Ogden, for a class discussion of Individual responsibility. This ties in well with the quote of Martin Niemöller, a German anti-Nazi pastor, which condemns bystanders who watched the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews: “First they come for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade-unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came far me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”


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