Museum Fellowship Lesson Plans

  Genocide in Rwanda
Genocide victims buried in Rwanda.
Courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.

Comparative Genocides
Daniel Penner
Altherton High School
Louisville, Kentucky



This lesson plan or project rubric challenges students to examine genocidal events throughout world history and to compare and contrast these historical events to the Holocaust. It works well following a fairly thorough study of the Holocaust but can also be included within a unit or course focusing on such subjects as genocide, hate, dictatorships or 20th century conflicts.


  • Students will compare and contrast the Holocaust to similar historical events.
  • Students will comprehend the extent of manís inhumanity toward man throughout history.

Time Required

Two days set aside for research time. Presentation time may vary according to class size and as to whether students work independently or in pairs.

Grade Level

Grades 10-12 

Curriculum Fit

Social Studies, Holocaust Studies

Procedure / Strategy

  • Teacher presents project to students.
  • Time is allotted for student research with teacher advice and guidance.
  • Presentations and discussion takes place in class.

Student Directions

Your topic will deal with a genocidal event in history. The topic will be thoroughly researched, keying on case and effect and the circumstances behind manís inhumanity to man. Include, if applicable, the role of the bystander. Students may work alone or in pairs. Choose one of the following topics and let your teacher know of your topic selection by the assigned date. Follow the directions given below.

Apartheid, South Africa


Kurds, Middle East


Armenian genocide, Turkey

Cultural Revolution China


Spanish Inquisition

Aztecs, ancient Mexico


Native Americans (specify tribe)

Sri Lanka




Stalin (Ukraine)

Cambodia (Pol Pot)



  1. Prepare a one-page typed outline for class distribution. It will include:

  • time line
  • background/causes 
  • summary of key events 
  • comparisons to the Holocaust
  • contrasts to the Holocaust
  1. Class presentation
  • Elaborate on the handout.
  • Include visuals when possible.
  • Lead class discussion on comparisons and contrasts to Holocaust. Include visuals when possible.
  1. Turn in a copy of the outline to the teacher at least two days prior to presentation.
  2. Turn in bibliography, minimum three sources, not all web sites.
  3. Handouts will be included in student notebooks.
  4. Presentations will take place during the last six week grading period.
  5. A schedule will be established and given to each student.

Materials / Resources

The teacher introduces students to the work and website of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The teacher also makes newspaper and periodical articles available along with the following collection of books:

Alexander, Edward. A Crime of Vengeance: An Armenian Struggle for Justice. New York: Free Press, 1991.
Altman, Linda. Genocide: The Systematic Killing of a People. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 1995.
Black, Eric. Bosnia: Fractured Region. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications, 1999.
Bodnarchuk, Kari. Kurdistan: Region Under Siege. Minneapolis, MN : Lerner Publications, 2000.
Bodnarchuk, Kari. Rwanda: Country Torn Apart. Minneapolis : Lerner Publications, 2000.
Chang, Iris. The rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. New York, NY : BasicBooks, 1997.
Churchill, Ward. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present. San Francisco : City Lights  Books, 1997.
Kallen, Stuart. Holocausts in Other Lands. Minneapolis: Rockbottom Books, 1994.
Kizilos, Peter. Tibet: Disputed Land. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2000.
Kuper, Leo. Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1982.
Totten, Sameul et al. Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views. New York : Garland Pub., 1997.
Twagilimana, Aimable. Teenage Refugees from Rwanda Speak Out. New York : Rosen Pub. Group, 1997.
Zwier, Lawrence. Sudan: North Against South. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1999.

Evaluation / Assessment

  1. Based on the following criteria:

  • accuracy, depth of information
  • student knowledge of subject
  • clear, well prepared presentation
  • ability to follow instructions 
  1. Point system
  • handout - 25 points
  • bibliography - 5 points
  • presentation - 15 points
  • topic on time to teacher - 5 points

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