No Way Out Questions and Activities
Extended Learning Questions and Activities
“All the people like us are we and everyone else is they.” What is the message in this Kipling quote in terms of identity, belonging and how we see “others”? How you do build a society that recognizes and values differences among people?
“Men are not born with hatred in their blood; the infection is usually acquired by contact.” Comment on this quote. How are people taught to hate a group or a person?
Define the following terms: Stereotype, race, prejudice, segregation, scapegoating, discrimination, tolerance. Do you object to the word “tolerance?” What word could be substituted? “Tyranny begins in silence, one begins to tolerate intolerance.” Do you agree with this statement?
How important is peer pressure to the way we see others and ourselves and how did it influence the German people in.their support of Nazism? Greed and career opportunism were factors in the Holocaust. Discuss what you have learned about these factors.
“The precondition for mass extermination was engineered dehumanization: the conversion of citizens into aliens.” What words and actions did the Nazis use to “dehumanize” the Jews? In looking at the timeline and letters in this curriculum, when do you think de-humanization of the Jews began? How did the process of “dehumanization” make it easier for people to justify their hatred of the Jews?
The Stages of Genocide can be classified as Identification, Isolation, Concentration, and Annihilation. Discuss the first two stages in terms of the letters and laws you have just studied.
Nazi legislation against the Jews was done in a slow, progressive process and in a particular order. What might have happened if the order of the laws had been different or if they were passed more quickly?
Discuss how specific letters and laws in No Way Out affected you by examining individual passages in the letters. Which ones stand out? Can you find implied meanings? What do the tone and mood in the letters tell us? (Suggestion: Divide students into groups, giving each group copies of particular laws and letters which they can examine in depth.)
What do you think Gerda and Heinz, as well as family members outside of Germany, knew about the Final Solution? Find specific supporting evidence in the letters.
Discuss the importance of primary sources in studying history and the similarities and differences between letters and diaries. What are the important benefits of both?
The Holocaust presented people with many moral and ethical choices. What do you think were the most difficult choices for the Deutsch family?
Further Study — Activities and Research:
Research World War I, the Versailles Treaty, the fall of German democracy and the rise of Nazism. Why do you think democracy failed in Germany? What are warning signs of a failing democracy?
“Why the Jews?” is a central question to the Holocaust. How and when did Jews become “outsiders” in Germany and elsewhere? Explore the history of antisemitism. Who are “outsiders” today in our society?
Paramount to a study of the Holocaust is the question, how could the Holocaust have happened in a cultured, educated and advanced society of the 20th century? Examine the following contributing factors. Were there other factors involved? Can you relate these factors to other events, current or past?
– Obedience and a sense of duty
– Peer pressure
– Bureaucratic structure
– Economic hard times
– A weak democracy
– Political charisma
– Manipulative propaganda