Holocaust Presentations

by James M Deem

 

I am often asked to give a presentation about the Holocaust to students who are studying the topic. These presentation are suitable for students aged 12 and up.

Here are four possibilities (which can be adapted to your curricular needs):

 

Auschwitz 

My presentation is based on the six trips I have made to Auschwitz over the last seven years.

I introduce students to the subject of the Holocaust. Then I briefly discuss the years leading up to World War II in Germany and the origination of the Nazi concentration camps. I describe how Auschwitz was created and explain how it quickly evolved from a prison camp to a death camp. I outline the various groups of prisoners who were incarcerated there. I discuss explain how the gas chambers changed over time.

Throughout my presentation, I read primary source passages from my book on Auschwitz to illustrate what the camp was like. I conclude by discussing the final days of the camp, the fate of the surviving prisoners when it was evacuated, the war crime trials of its Nazi guards and commandant, and its present status as a museum and memorial.

My PowerPoint presentation includes many images that I took when I visited Auschwitz to research my book and is suitable for students aged 12 and up who are studying the Holocaust.

 

Speaking to students about Auschwitz at the Rossville Middle School in Rossville, Indiana

 

Kristallnacht 

I begin by introducing students to the events that took place shortly after Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany in 1933. I describe the boycott of Jewish businesses that transpired on April 1, 1933, and the burning of "un-German" books that occurred on May 10, 1933. I discuss the many laws and decrees that were enacted by the Nazis over the next five years to remove the rights of Germany's Jewish population. 

I then introduce the subject of forced emigration, which led to the expulsion of 17,000 Polish Jews from Germany in October 1938. I explain the events that transpired when Herschel Grynszpan learned that his family was among the deported Jews and how his violent act was used by Nazi propagandists to instigate a pogrom that later became known as Kristallnacht. 

Throughout, I read primary source passages from my book to illustrate the events of Kristallnacht. I conclude by discussing how Kristallnacht was the opening movement of what became the Holocaust. My PowerPoint presentation includes many historical images that illustrate what happened before, during, and after Kristallnacht in Germany and Austria.

Speaking about Kristallnacht to high school students at the International School of Berne, Switzerland

 

The Prisoners of Breendonk

I begin by briefly explaining the prewar history of the Belgian camp and its development into what the SS called a "reception" camp (though it was essentially the same as a concentration camp).

I introduce some of the prisoners, using photographs obtained from various archives in Belgium. This personal close-up look allows students to better understand the horrors of the Holocaust as well as the dangers of living in an occupied country. About a third of Breendonk's prisoners (Jews, political prisoners, resistance fighters, and common criminals) were eventually sent to other concentration camps. I describe how the camp was evacuated and what happened to the prisoners.

I also talk about my own multi-faceted connection to the Holocaust and why I began to write books related to this topic.

 

SS Concentration Camps

I have visited almost all of the major concentration camps multiple times as I have researched my books. In this presentation, I discuss at least four major camps: Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Mauthausen.

I explain how and why the concentration camp system was established by Adolph Hitler. Then I describe what individual camps were like, using the above four camps in my examples.

I can easily tailor this presentation to the Holocaust curriculum taught in your school.