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10th Grade Literature of the Holocaust

English 10: Literature of the Holocaust and World War II
Mrs. Rankin
First Semester


The literature of the Holocaust simultaneously fascinates and repels. The Holocaust reveals the depths of human cruelty, prejudice, and indifference, as well as the triumphs of human kindness, courage, and the sheer human will to survive. As you may conclude, then, the literature of the Holocaust ranges across the entire spectrum of human experience. The themes, lessons, and insights of the Holocaust are universal human themes. This course will do many things. One of these, I hope, is that the literature will act as mirror into which we can look closely and examine our own humanity, in all of its complexity. I hope that you, as I have, will learn a great deal about yourself in this class. Secondly, because any study of the literature of the Holocaust must also include a study of history, including American history, I also expect that you will begin to see history in terms of real events that happen to real people, events that continue to shape our perception today.

Class Goals:

  • Increase reading and writing proficiency skills by examining and responding to poetry, short stories, articles, and books.
  • Through reading, viewing films, and discussing, summarize the major events leading to the initiation of WWII as well as the general course of the war and its aftermath.
  • Summarize the gradual internal political process in Germany which led to the Holocaust.
  • Examine the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping in any society.
  • Think about the use and abuse of power, and the role and responsibilities of individuals, organizations, and nations when confronted with civil rights violations and/or policies of genocide.
  • Gain insight into the many historical, social, religious, political, and economic factors which cumulatively resulted in the Holocaust and how a convergence of factors can contribute to the disintegration of civilized values.
  • Grasp the complexities of historical events, on both a societal and an individual level.
A Definition of the Holocaust

The Holocaust refers to a specific event in 20th century history: the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims - 6 million were murdered; Gypsies, Poles, the handicapped, and millions more were killed and persecuted.