Steve holding photo 1200x200 

Rationale and Learning Objectives

A strong rationale provides focus and promotes understanding of the Holocaust as a complex historical event. Additionally, a strong, well-thought-out rationale provides structure and context for difficult curricular decisions.

Think about why you are teaching this history before deciding what and how to teach about the Holocaust.  In addition, your rationale should consider:

  • Your knowledge of Holocaust history 
  • Your unique student population
  • The particular course you are teaching
  • Time available for study of the Holocaust
  • External curricular requirements 
  • The Museum’s guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust

The rationale statement(s) in a history course can vary from those in a literature course but overlap in the content of the rationale statements can be expected. Some examples of common rationale statements are:

  • To understand that the Holocaust was not an accident in history; it was not inevitable. It occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murder to occur.
  • To understand that democratic institutions and values are not automatically sustained, but need to be appreciated, nurtured, and protected.
  • To question the role of silence and indifference to the suffering of others, or to the infringement of civil rights in any society, as a factor that can—however unintentionally—perpetuate these problems


Proposed Outcomes

  • The Holocaust was a genocide involving the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Six million Jews were murdered, as well as millions of non-Jews, including Roma/Sinti, people with disabilities, Slavic peoples (especially Poles and Russians), gay men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others for political and ideological reasons.
  • The Holocaust, like other genocides, was fueled by prejudice, hatred and intolerance.
  • The Holocaust could not have occurred – or could not have occurred at this scale – if more people would have protested, resisted, or otherwise opposed Hitler and the Nazi Party.
  • Every person – young and old – has a voice. Every person has the power to speak out against hatred, prejudice and intolerance and, in so doing, can help make the world more inclusive for all.

SEL & Creating a Safe, Respectful Learning Environment

"In addition to this study being a reaffirmation to never again permit such occurrences, studying this material is intended to examine the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and intolerance and prepare students to be responsible
citizens in a pluralistic democracy." – Washington State Holocaust Education Bill -  RCW 28A.300.115