History of Antisemitism Lesson

Download a PDF of the Lesson here

This is a two-day lesson intended to be part of a multi-day or multi-week unit focused on the Holocaust. Following an introductory overview and precise definition of the Holocaust, these lessons explore the centuries- long history of antisemitism in Germany, Europe, and the world. With an emphasis on textual analysis and constructing historical context, students begin the complex work of understanding the origins of antisemitism and its role in the Holocaust. While hatred of Jews was not the only contributing factor to the Holocaust, students are encouraged to think critically about how hatred and prejudice lead to dehumanization and violence.s, and listen to people who knew her.

Grade Level: 6-8

Subject: multidisciplinary

Duration:  two 45-minute class periods

NC Standards Addressed:

  • NCSC RI 6-8.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of explicitly stated meaning
  • NCSCS RI.6-8.2: Determine a central idea(s) of text and how it is conveyed through particular details
  • NCSCS RI. 6-8.3: Analyze interactions among ideas, events, and individuals

Essential Question:

  • What are the history and origins of antisemitism?

Learning Objectives:

After the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand the origins and history of antisemitism
  • Understand the role of antisemitism in the Holocaust

Previewing Vocabulary:

  • Dehumanize – v. to remove human qualities and/or individuality
  • Prejudice – n. an opinion formed beforehand without knowledge, thought, or reason (usually negative)
  • Scapegoat – n. a person or group who is blamed for the actions of others
  • Segregate – v. separated and/or restricted usually because of race or ethnicity


(Links to Google Docs, Forms, and Slides will ask you to make a copy):




  1. Journal/Written Response

Ask students to compose a written response either on paper, via discussion board, or Padlet to the following quote: These lies came to be taken as truth. Encourage them to make personal and/or societal connections and to explain using complete sentences with at least one paragraph.

  • Discuss students’ responses to the prompt. How is it that lies come to be taken as truth? What is part of that process? Is prejudice a contributing factor? Make distinctions between the differences among facts, opinions, and beliefs. Also, explore the connection between belief and behavior. What are modern examples of lies being taken as truth?
  • Display and discuss the definition of Antisemitismfrom the USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia.
  • Stop mid-way through the film to discuss, allow for review/catch up, and address questions or misunderstandings. While the film is short, it is quite a bit of information with a complex vocabulary, particularly for middle school students. Depending on students’ needs and levels of comprehension, more pauses and discussion may be appropriate.
E-Learning Adaptation:
  • Use Edpuzzle to stop the film periodically, add teacher comments and commentary, and share with students as the version they interact with on their own devices.
  • Use Flipgrid for students to record their questions and comments for discussion as well as their responses to classmates’ discussion.


  1. Review Transcript Cloze answers from previous lesson as well as discussion and written responses about lies and truth.
  • Working in pairs, groups, or whole-class, use transcript to complete Tracing Antisemitism Document, which pinpoints specific events from the film and requires students to consider their origins and impact. It is important that students grasp how long antisemitism has existed.
  • To reinforce the notion that antisemitism did not begin with Hitler and the Nazi party, yet they capitalized on centuries’ old prejudices and hatred, show Chapter 3 of Path to Nazi Genocide.
  • While viewing, students should note survivor testimony, in particular. What were the effects of Nazi Antisemitism both personally for Jews and for the society at large? How do the survivors describe their feelings and experiences?
  • Show additional survivor testimonies if time allows:

Ruth Rack – Friends joined mob after Kristallnact (timestamp 2:20-3:45) Rosa Marx – Teacher and friends response (timestamp 4:49-6:55)

  • Students discuss, post to Padlet, or use Flipgrid to record their overall thoughts and ideas about the historical and personal consequences of antisemitism. How were the survivors affected? How was German society and the world affected? What role did Antisemitism play in isolating and dehumanizing Jews?


  • Return to the Journal/Written Response—compose a formal second response that explains what students have learned about antisemitism and its origins as well as its impact on the Holocaust. What are the ultimate consequences when lies are taken as truth? Students could respond with art, music, poetry, drama, etc..


As a follow up lesson or resources that you can use to extend student learning on this topic.

  • Using the Tracing Antisemitism handout and any other resources into a virtual or classroom timeline with illustrations and images.
  • Read, annotate, and discuss Summary of Antisemitism text from Echoes and Reflections. Make additions to the timeline or handout.
  • Pairs or groups work together to research modern instances of antisemitism and its effects.
  • Echoes and Reflections — extensive Antisemitism lesson plan(s) with activities, visuals, and audio/visual survivor testimony in brief clips that directly address antisemitism.
  • USHMM Anti-Semitism Lesson
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