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.

Classroom Resources provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Teaching Strategy

Fundamentals of Teaching about the Holocaust

Teaching about the Holocaust can inspire students to think critically about the past and their own roles and responsibilities today. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum provides resources to help teachers ground their instruction in sound rationale, methodology, and authoritative resources.


Getting Started

This set of lessons allows teachers to integrate teaching about the Holocaust into Social Studies and English/Language Arts units. The lessons range from one day introductions to the topic to a four day overview and explorations of Anne Frank's diary and Elie Wiesel's memoir, Night. Each lesson encourages inquiry and critical thinking rooted in primary sources from the Museum's collections.


Teaching with Survivor Testimony

Students examine Holocaust survivor testimonies as personal memories and as deliberately-created historical records, and evaluate how the Holocaust affected the lives of individuals, as well as the role of memory in our understanding of history.


Racial Science in Nazi Germany and Jim Crow America

This lesson is a case study examining Nazi Germany and the United States during the 1930s, at a time when racism and eugenics were enshrined in law and practice. Students will examine the national and historical contexts in which racism manifested in the two countries, and explore how the pseudoscience of eugenics as well as concerns about "racial purity" found its way into the laws of the United States and Nazi Germany.


Exploring Holocaust-era Diaries

Students examine Holocaust-era diaries as both historical and as deliberately-created literary texts, and understand how the Holocaust affected the lives of individuals.


The Holocaust Encyclopedia

This multimedia resource contains more than 850 articles about the Holocaust, antisemitism, and current-day mass atrocities in 19 languages. Resources for educators include discussion questions, an overview of topics to teach, maps, eyewitness testimony clips, and more.


History Unfolded: US Newspapers and the Holocaust

Using the citizen history project, History Unfolded, students investigate what information about the Holocaust was available in their communities by doing original research using historic newspapers found online or in a local library. Through an analysis of their discoveries, they better understand American responses to the Holocaust within the socio-economic and political context of the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. For teachers who cannot or choose not to engage their students in original archival research, several lessons using content from the History Unfolded project are available for student examination of American responses to the Holocaust using historical newspapers.

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.
  • Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944. This is a collection of individual index cards of Jews who had their German nationality annulled by the Nazis. The records were created when German citizenship was revoked because of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws of 1935. These records were filmed from index cards at the Berlin Document Center in 1959.
  • Munich, Vienna and Barcelona Jewish Displaced Persons and Refugee Cards, 1943-1959 (JDC). During World War II, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) helped support Jewish communities which became impoverished under Nazi rule and assisted Jews who were fleeing from Nazi-occupied countries. This database contains the registration cards of approximately 85,000 Jewish Displaced Persons who registered with the emigration department of JDC in Munich and Vienna after World War II, in addition to cards containing information about Jewish refugees whom JDC provided care for in Barcelona during and immediately after the war.
  • Jewish Holocaust Survivor List from the files of World Jewish Congress, 1918-1982. The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is an international Jewish representative organization established in 1936. Originally headquartered in Europe, the WJC's main office was moved to New York in July 1940 when most of Europe was overrun by the Nazis. The World Jewish Congress collection (1918-1982) consists of the archival records of the New York office.
  • History Unfolded: U.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust. Articles you clip on and save to History Unfolded will become part of a national database available to the public and may inform research and programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Learn more about History Unfolded.
  • The Holocaust. Historical newspaper articles about the Holocaust during World War II.
  • Nuremberg Trials. Historical newspaper articles about international law and justice in the aftermath of World War II.
  • The Holocaust Collection on Fold3. Over 600 stories of individual victims and survivors; search for a name or create a memorial page. Stories, maps, and facts about every concentration camp. The Ardelia Hall collection of artifacts looted by the Nazis. The U.S. National Archives Holocaust records.

Ancestry Exercises