The Rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust


The resources in this collection help students build background knowledge about the rise of the Nazi party and deepen their understanding of the Holocaust. This is essential to interpreting the documents and oral histories available through Ancestry.

In today’s world, questions of how best to build and maintain democratic societies that are pluralistic, open, and resilient to violence are more relevant than ever. Studying the Holocaust allows students to wrestle with profound moral questions raised by this history and fosters their skills in ethical reasoning, critical thinking, empathy, and civic engagement: all of which are critical for sustaining democracy. In addition to classroom resources, we also offer a selection of professional learning resources that support educators by modeling how to best incorporate survivor accounts and testimony into their teaching of this history.

Classroom Resources provided by Facing History and Ourselves


Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior

These lessons are designed to lead students through an examination of the catastrophic period in the twentieth century when Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews and millions of other civilians, in the midst of the most destructive war in human history. The unit follows Facing History’s unique methodology, and invites students to explore the universal themes inherent in a study of the Holocaust.


Dismantling Democracy

Students will examine how democracy was replaced with dictatorship in a relatively short period of time in Germany, and begin to draw conclusions about the responsibilities shared by both leaders and citizens for democracy’s survival.


The following four videos offer important historical context about the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust, featuring insights from survivors, prominent scholars and primary source selections:


Americans and the Holocaust: The Refugee Crisis | Facing History

This 4-lesson unit explores the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism and the humanitarian refugee crisis it provoked. By examining primary sources including public opinion polls, personal narratives, and radio plays, students will explore why widespread sympathy for Jewish refugees never translated into widespread support for their rescue.

Professional Learning for Educators provided by Facing History and Ourselves


Rethinking America and the Holocaust

This webinar is a companion to the “Americans and the Holocaust” unit. It models resources and activities from the unit and includes teaching tips.


Those Who Were There: Using Podcasts and Survivor Testimony in Your Classroom

Explore the significance of hearing testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust.

Classroom Video

Using Survivor Testimony

Watch a master teacher prepare his students to engage with survivor testimony.

Ancestry Resources

  • World Memory Project. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry have created the World Memory Project to allow anyone, anywhere to help build the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.
  • Jewish Family History (and a list of all collections) Ancestry® has partnered with JewishGen®, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc., the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the USC Shoah Foundation, and Arolsen Archives to create a collection of over 20 million Jewish historical records.
  • Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. This collection consists of Germans and foreign nationals who were persecuted by public institutions, social securities, and companies in Germany between 1939-1947. The records may also include information on those who died, including burial information.
  • Africa, Asia and Europe, Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons, 1946-1971. This collection consists of passenger lists of immigrants leaving Germany and other European ports and airports between 1946-1971. The majority of the immigrants listed in this collection are displaced persons - Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and Nazi forced laborers, as well as refugees from Central and Eastern European countries and some non-European countries.
  • Passenger Lists. This category covers arrivals through major and smaller U.S. ports, as well as several large international ports.

Ancestry Exercises