Electrified fence, gate at Auschwitz I camp
Courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives
This lesson is taught in the middle of our study of the Holocaust. The students have already been exposed to pre-war culture, the rise of National Socialism, the pre-war deprivation of rights, and ghettoization. It is built around primary source documents (Goring's order to Heydrich and Protocols of the Wannsee Conference) and its purpose is to help students gain an
understanding of the mechanics involved in the implementation of the Final Solution.
- To enable students to differentiate between concentration camps and death camps.
- To provide an overview of what life in the camps was like.
- To define the final solution.
- To enable students to visualize the magnitude of 6 million deaths.
Middle school or high school
Materials Used / Resources
Auschwitz Album from Yad Vashem, including a
photographic presentation of the album.
- Göring, Hermann. Order to Reinhard Heydrich
to prepare a final solution. The primary source document is available
from Yad Vashem.
Killing Centers and
Concentration Camps from Holocaust Encyclopedia.
- Levi, Primo.
Nazi Camps Animated Map
Protocol of the Wannsee Conference January 20, 1942. Primary
source from The Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
- USHMM. Maps
including camp locations.
Teacher Directed Activity
- Differentiate between concentration camps and death camps. Define and discuss the Wannsee Conference and the "Final Solution" using the primary sources. Explain that mobile killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) were already murdering Jews in the Soviet Union.
- Discuss deportation by truck and train from the ghetto. Read "The Journey" to students. Point out that the six death camps were all located in Poland (Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Beizec, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek). Discuss the train ride, arrival at camp, selection for labor, selection for
- Examine life in the camp conditions, survival tactics. Use posters to initiate discussion. Discuss the process of using the gas chambers to kill as efficiently as possible.
- Students should write in their journals
In order to gauge the magnitude of 6 million deaths, do the following calculations:
to Museum Fellowship Teaching Resources