"The (Re)presentation of History in Film and Video: Narrative and Media,"
The Many Holocausts of World War II: Film, Facts and Fiction - Gary Rodebaugh

"The Chinese hate the Japanese," said Bill.

We were traveling on the subway system in Hong Kong. Bill and I had just finished teaching an English class at one of the cityās "study centers," and as we traveled to our home my friend gazed and commented about the different people on the train. Bill, who can be a random conversationalist, threw out his above comment. He was fishing for a debate so I obliged him.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, youāve heard of the My Lai massacre?"1

"Yes, in Vietnam," I answered.

"Right, well in World War II the Japanese did something worse· in Nanking."

Just then it dawned on me that although many Asian countries share common traits, and can be linked together, these countries also have vast differences that have kept them apart. I was guilty of shoving them together to "simplify" things.

The above situation occurred in the summer of 1994, and it was the first time I had heard of Nanking and the events surrounding its takeover in World War II. During Japanās invasion of the capital city of Nanking in 1937 over 200,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed in a few months time.2 Although it has been some time since my conversation with Bill, the story of Nanking has held my interest. I had never heard of it before this time. As I explored the Nanking incident I came across Iris Changās book The Rape of Nanking. In this book Chang paints a graphic picture of the Japanese invasion, takeover, and occupation of the capital city of China.3 She uses eyewitness accounts, especially the diary of John Rabe,4 to show the brutal and dehumanizing treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese soldiers. Not only was this a terrible event in the history of humanity, but this tragedy continues because of the silence surrounding the event.5 Changās book provides light to this dark event and gives a voice to the silent victims of this war.

After reading this book, I figured my search was over and I had what I needed to teach this event to my students. However, this could not have been further from the truth. As a teacher, it is not my job simply to teach brutal events in history within the vacuum of time. Why and how this event occurred provides more insight into human nature than the gruesome fact by itself. Understanding the reasons behind the soldiersā decisions should help students understand other aspects, events, and holocausts of World War II.

I have taught for many years and have been looking for ways to explore this story without forcing the issue. During my time as an English Language Development teacher, I have taught the Diary of Anne Frank by first giving some historical background on World War II. In order for my students to understand the Holocaust, it was necessary to explore the political, social and economic environment of the 1930ās and 40ās.

Although my middle school teachers introduced me to Anne Frank and to the conditions in the United States, the teachersā exploration never examined the United Statesā own anti-Semitic feelings and its ill treatment of other groups of people. Yes, my classes discussed that many of the "Japanese" interned during the war were American citizens. I always thought it was ironic that the United States would berate the Germans for the Holocaust but turn a blind eye to Japanese Internment. In my classes, I taught my students about the loyalty of the Issei and Nisei but not the many African-Americans and others whose rights were abused during this time.6 It has been my hope to move beyond Eisenhower, MacArthur, Churchill, and others who lived and died during WWII and to examine the issues that motivated the decision-makers and leaders of world powers. To do this required some exploration of not only the time period but also how historians and filmmakers are examining that time today.

I took a ride on the "electronic information superhighway" to explore the opinions of others. By searching the Internet, I discovered various opinions of the Nanking massacre and Japanese brutality during World War II. One site (World Wide Web. interlog.com/-yuan/Japan.html) gives a detailed account of Japanās war crimes in Nanking. Much of the information here is a rehash of Iris Changās book, but it does move on to other questionable areas and possible crimes committed by Japan during World War II or the Sino-Japanese War.7 This site and Changās book also bring up the fact that Japan has still not given a written apology to China for the 1939 invasion. Ultimately, this is the point of my project: Not that terrible things have happened in history, the1940ās in particular, but that the wounds of the past continue to cause friction between counties.8 This project moves beyond history and delves into the genesis of these events. These tragedies did not begin with the physical actions, but the catalyst can be found in the feelings and words that drove those actions. As an English teacher, I have the opportunity to see how language and its use affect history.9

I have always used history or historical themes and events to drive my classroom curriculum. I use historical themes10 because I have found that most of my students have a dim to cloudy picture of history, especially United States history. Since the majority of my students are English Language Development students, I have found that using historical themes adds structure to the classroom and reinforces social studies curriculum.

For the past several years, I have expanded my unit on the Diary of Anne Frank to include other stories of the Holocaust. (We have read Number the Stars and The Big Lie.) Yet, my exploration of World War II and the Holocaust had not traveled across to the war in the Pacific until now.

In my unit covering The Diary of Anne Frank, we discuss in detail the Holocaust and how it literary means "total destruction usually by fire." Generally, this word is used to describe the death of millions of people by the hands of Hitler and his Nazis. Many useful and powerful documents are available to study the Holocaust.11 A dynamic movement to insure this tragic event will not be forgotten and that the evidence will be preserved has been going on for several years.12 However, the events involving tragedies in Asia remain ignored or forgotten. Iris Changās The Rape of Nanking is one of the few books documenting the Nanking massacre. Even today, Nanking remains a difficult subject for both Japan and China to discuss. Chang calls it the "forgotten Holocaust," and by continuing to ignore it the world is repeating that same dark tragedy.13

Although it is not a military massacre or holocaust equal to the Nazisā mass killings or the Japanese invasion of Nanking, in the United States, Japanese-American Internment is a massacre of the U.S. Constitution. This tragedy is often brushed aside in school curriculum, or at least it is not explored until the end of high school.14 Jeanne Wakatsaki Houstonās Farewell to Manzanar and Yoshiko Uchidaās Journey to Topaz are two novels that tell the story of Japanese Internment, but middle school students or even high school students do not often read these novels. Although the survivors of internment were given money in 1988 to compensate for the abuses laid upon them, a much larger abuse, the reduction or omission of this event in school curriculum, continues to add insult to this terrible abuse.15

Building on my love of history and a wealth of accessible information, I have chosen to take a look at three aspects of World War II: the war in Europe (in particular the Nazi Holocaust), the war in the U.S. (especially the treatment of the Japanese Americans), and the war in Asia (focusing on the Nankeen invasion). The Nazi Holocaust was chosen because it is a familiar subject to me and it contains two core novels from the current eighth grade curriculum. I chose Japanese Internment because it was and is a "holocaust" against the U.S Constitution, and because it occurred along the Pacific Coast, it would be considered a local historical event. Internment also contains many historical political patterns that have been repeated in the 1990ās.16 Lastly, the genesis of my unit, Nanking was chosen because of the mystery, denial, and avoidance of this event. It also serves as a contrast to Japanese Internment and should provide a way to expand studentsā cultural awareness.


At the end of this unit students will be able to:

    1. Define the terms: bias, prejudice, racism, discrimination, and propaganda and explain how these words effected Nanking, Internment, and the Holocaust. See Appendix 1.
    2. Locate China, Japan, Germany, Holland, and Denmark on a world map, and the cities of Amsterdam and Nanking. Locate the areas effected by internment/relocation on an U.S. map.
3. Identify and distinguish between primary and secondary sources.
    1. Compare and contrast the differences between Japanese Internment and the Holocaust in Europe. Compare/contrast the video A Family Gathering to the book The Diary of Anne Frank and compare/contrast video clips of The Empire of the Sun to written accounts of the invasion of Nanking.
    2. Use a journal or diary to reflect upon their life and the world around them.
  1. 6. Use the Internet to find historical resource material.
    1. Be able to evaluate the quality or reliability of primary and secondary
resource material.
    1. Discuss the nature of the tragedies and look for ways to prevent these tragedies from happening again using analysis and critical thinking.
    1. Explore the major events that led to WWII in Europe and in Asia as well.


Because this topic covers such a broad field of history, this unit will be broken into its three main parts. Each part will stick to the overall theme: Words and language have power to influence people in a positive or negative way. By taking a long look at a "dark side" of human history, students can learn to remember the past, revise their thinking, and re-humanize their behavior.

Before this unit begins, the setting needs to be in place. My room would be left largely undecorated. 1940ās era posters, advertisements, political propaganda, and pictures from that time would be shown to the class. Students would then be given the "Survival" paper and be given time to complete it. From this, the students will be exposed to the terms prejudice and discrimination. We will discuss how these terms can have a positive connotation, but when we discuss the word "racism" the connotation is definitely negative. The students would use the word chart to plot the continuum of the words prejudice, discrimination, and racism.

The students will use a KWL chart (see Appendix 5) to gauge the studentsā knowledge base on WWII and help direct the unit. Students would start their research reports at this time.

Students would examine diaries or journal writing. (See section on diaries). We would discuss the power of the written word and how it permanently captures a point in time. Students would learn how to examine diaries as primary sources, and we would discuss accuracy and bias in the reporting of history. As we investigate, discuss, and evaluate, the three areas of World War II, students will be required to write in a journal or diary. (See student diaries.) The purpose of this activity is to show students the value and power of primary sources. Once the journal is turned in, the students will be informed how they have just contributed to the making of history.

First, the students will view excerpts of the movie Empire of the Sun to see Hollywoodās interpretation of the invasion of the international zone in Shanghai. This is used to build an understanding of the Sino-Chinese War that occurred prior to the bombing of Peal Harbor. After viewing the film, the students will be introduced to the invasion of Nanking and the facts surrounding the massacre of the Chinese people living there. Students will read about John Rabe, a Nazi supporter who lived in Nanking, whose diary and writings are one of the primary sources used to describe the incident in Nanking.

After reading selections from John Rabeās diary, the students would use the Internet to explore different viewpoints of what happened in Nanking. We would discuss primary sources, accuracy, and bias in reporting history. Students then should be able to determine whether the information they have gathered is accurate or not. By visiting different sites, students should begin to see that with the availability of the Internet, and the worldwide communication it provides, that what is said between nations and people has a dramatic effect on how they live.

Then, we would read a brief history about WWII in Europe and discuss how Hitler and the Nazis used words and language before they used any military force at all. We will discuss the fact that ordinary people were living in Germany, and it was ordinary people that chose Hitler as their leader. The class would look at excerpts from the movie The Yellow Star in order to help them understand the reality of this situation.

At this time, the students would read the short novel The Big Lie. Both the film, which uses primary sources, and the book, which is also a primary source, are used to help students understand the reality of the Holocaust and how it progressed. The students would be exposed to the vocabulary and history brief of the Holocaustās most famous victim, Anne Frank.

Anne Frankās life would be discussed in detail from her upbringing to her time in hiding. Anne Frankās diary would be broken off into sections, and each student in the class will be assigned a section to read. Students will then be put into groups where each student will report to his or her group about the section that was read. Students would use "literature circles" to guide the discussion in class. (Literature circles are designed so that each person in the group has a specific job to perform.) Lastly, each group will report to the class.

By reading the Diary of Anne Frank this way, it cuts down on the time required to read the novel, and it makes students accountable for comprehending what they read. Certain passages will be highlighted and discussed in the class for emphasis. The studentsā textbook, Elements of Literature, and A&Eās video Biography will be used to complete our study of Anne Frank.17

After Anne Frank, her diary, the Holocaust, and the war in Europe have been discussed, our focus will shift to the United States and its involvement in the war. Parts of the America and the Holocaust will be viewed to show how Anti-Semitism was pervasive in the U.S. as well as in Europe. It will also be used to examine the feelings and thoughts of the people in the U.S. Although America didnāt murder six million Jewish people, she was still guilty of the same prejudice, discrimination, apathy, and bigotry as Nazi Germany.18 The fuel for the fire of persecution was there in the 1940ās, and it burned in the West Coast of the U.S. These issues will be brought into the discussion as the classes attention moves from Anne Frank to A Family Gathering. This film will be shown for many reasons. It serves as a source of information about Japanese Internment, and it has a diary-like feel to it. It will be compared to The Diary of Anne Frank, and to other information gathered about Japanese Internment. As students study about internment, it will be contrasted will the treatment of those persecuted during the Holocaust.

By analyzing and studying the time period around World War Two, I hope students will be able to explore their own racial views and understand the dangers and limitations of generalizations. It is also my hope that the students see the power of the words they chose to use and the way these words can affect the world around them. Students will go on the Internet to discover information about Internment. Several informative sites exist about life in the camps and treatment of Japanese-Americans. On the Internet, students will collect and print out information that covers internment. This data/information will be contrasted with original documents from that time period (taken from the National Archives).

Finally, the students will refer back to the KWL charts that they filled out in the beginning of the unit, and then they will be asked to briefly summarize what they learned about the Naziās Holocaust, Japanese Internment, and the Nanking invasion in a short essay.

Enrichment (this could be done during or after the unit)

Literature circles will be used, as students will read five novels (Summer of my German Soldier, Farewell to Manzanar, Journey to Topaz and Number the Stars). All the novels except Number the Stars are set in the U.S. during the 1940ās. The use of literature circles allows students to be exposed to different works and gives them an opportunity to discuss the books and understand them better (using peer help).

Background History

Brief History of World War II19 and Anne Frank

World War II grew out of the ashes of the war to end all wars÷World War I. World War I (WWI) was fought from 1914-1918 between two groups of nations: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (Triple Alliance) and Great Britain, France and Russia (Triple Entante). The United States joined the side of the Triple Entante in 1917. This was a brutal war that killed millions of people throughout Europe.

The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty blamed Germany for causing the war and required them to pay reparations to the other countries involved in the war. Germans did not think they were to blame, and they felt mistreated and betrayed by the rest of Europe. This was only one problem for Germany; because of the war debts they had to pay, Germanyās economy was weak. Many Germans were out of work, desperate, and willing to change.

During this time there were many different political parties in Germany. One of these parties was the National Socialist Party or the Nazi party whose leader party was a man named Adolph Hitler. He would eventually bring a mixture of promise, hope, hatred, and war to Germany. Hitler was from Austria, and he believed that Germans were superior to other people in the world. He told the German people in speeches and in writing that the Germans, the Aryans especially, were the "master race" and that the Jewish people were the cause of all Germanyās problems. Laws were passed limiting the rights of the Jewish people.

The Jews were the scapegoats of the German people, and when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, many Jews left Germany for other parts of the world. One of these families, the Frank family, emigrated from Germany to Holland in 1939. The youngest daughter of the Frank family, Anne, was born in Frankfort, Germany in 1929.

Anneās father was a wealthy businessman who owned a factory in Amsterdam that made pectin for jams and jellies. Anne lived the life of a rich girl. She enjoyed the outdoors and in many ways was a typical teenager of her time. She was very talkative, she loved to spend time with her friends, and she argued with her mother. In 1942 on her thirteenth birthday, Anne was given a diary. She wrote in that diary off and on for over two years while she and her family were hiding from Nazi persecution. Her diary documented the life of a teenager who had many hopes and dreams despite her present condition. Above all, Anne wanted to be free to move about and explore the world around her.20

Unfortunately, this desire would never be completely realized. In 1944, the Nazis discovered the hiding families and took them to concentration camps. Anne was sent to Auschwitz, then she went to Bergen-Belsen where she contracted typhus and eventually died. The lone survivor of the Frank family was Otto Frank. Later, he was given Anneās diary.21

Anneās diary was originally published in 1947 in the Dutch language, and then it was translated into German, French, and English, and then into fifty-five languages. It has sold more than 20 million copies.22 It was so successful that the diary was turned into a play and a film. Recently in 1998, the play The Diary of Anne Frank had a very successful run on Broadway. The success of Anneās Diary lay in the fact that she was an excellent writer and that she was incredibly honest and insightful for her age.23

The allied powers were on the verge of defeating Germany. Hitler committed suicide a few days before Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. By the end of WWII, millions of people died because of Hitler and his plans for world dominance.

Brief History of World War II in Asia

Before the first shot was fired, the war in Asia began with Japanās longing for superiority. As an island nation, Japan was isolated from contact with the Western world for many years. Unlike China that had Western contact starting with Marco Polo, and could be reach through difficult land travel, Japan remained isolated from frequent Western contact. This provided the Japanese with a unique situation. They could travel to other countries, but few countries would travel to them. This ended with a boom with the arrival of the American Admiral Matthew Perry in 1853.24

Japanās identity had been changed, and they now desired to "catch up" to the West. In order to do this they needed land and resources. After claiming port cities in Manchuria after the Russo Japanese War in 1905, Japan invaded Manchuria in 1934, and the Sino-Chinese war had begun. China appealed to the League of Nations for help, but it was not given. Britain and the U.S unofficially supported the Chinese, and Japan signed treaties with Germany and Italy.25

After several years of fighting, Japan had conquered large areas of coastal China. The capital city of Nanking was invaded and taken by the spring of 1938. During its takeover, Nankingās citizens were raped, brutally tortured, and murdered. In spite of this atrocity, Chiang Kai-shek moved Chinaās capital to the interior and China continued to fight. In 1941, Japan invaded Hong Kong and the international zone in Shanghai, but its most famous military move that year was the attack on Pearl Harbor. This brought the United States along with the rest of the Allies into a war that was just between brothers in the "Asian Family."26

Brief History of World War II in America

December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy bombed the American base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This one event changed the history of the war in Europe and the Pacific. Before this time, the United States tried to stay out of the war in Europe as much as they could. However after Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy. This ended the countryās policy of neutrality and thrust the nation into the war in Europe and in the Pacific.27

The United States quickly mobilized for war and because of the distance from the fighting the U.S. was able to mass-produce large amounts of equipment without interruption. Although the U.S. was recovering from the Great Depression, it was able to put many of the unemployed back to work. For the first time, as men were drafted into war, women entered the work force en masse. Massive recycling efforts coupled with rationing and war bonds provided ample resources to build the ships, airplanes, and tanks to fight the war in Europe and in the Pacific.28

Although many Americans worked hard in the U.S. to fight the foreign enemies that were seen as a threat to their way of life, a few groups in the U.S. struggled and suffered during WWII. These groups did not benefit from WWII, as those groups that were put to work and given a cause for fighting. On the West Coast of the U.S., Japanese Americans were being rounded up and sent to "internment camp." Executive Order 9066 required that all people of Japanese descent be relocated from "Restricted Area Number One" (the Pacific Coast of California, Oregon, and Washington) to another location in the U.S. In 1942, President Roosevelt established the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to oversee the internment after the internees had been assembled. Of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans interned during WWII, two-thirds of them were U.S. citizens. From 1942 to 1945, Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps because it was feared that they would be loyal to Japan. Widespread rumors spread that the Japanese Americans were spying for Japan and preparing to sabotage U.S. factors. However, no evidence was found. In three separate cases the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the military action of internment was valid (Hirabayashi v. U.S. in 1943, Yasui v. U.S. in 1943 and Korematsu v. U.S. in 1944). Most of the Japanese Americans stayed in the camps until Japan was defeated in August 1945.29

Conditions in the internment camps were less than ideal. Surrounded by barbed wire and watched by armed guards, the internees were forced to live in barrack-like buildings in weather conditions ranging from extreme desert heat to unbearable humidity to bitter cold. Beyond the harsh physical conditions, the Japanese-Americans had to deal with the loss of land and property that they suffered before internment.30 All this occurred in a country that promises to "promote the general welfare"31 of its people.

Classroom Activities


The title of this activity can be changed, but the objective still remains the same.

Objective: Students will choose from a list of items that they will need to take with them on a trip. They must put the items in order from what they would take first to last. Students should be able to justify why that item was put in that numerical position.

Purpose: To develop critical thinking skills and to teach that discriminating, prejudging, and using biases can be useful skills.

After the students have completed their lists, the students will get into groups of four to five people and review their lists, and each student will write a justification of his/her list.
Items in the list Your list order
Lipstick School type backpack 1. 21.
Make-up Jacket 2. 22.
Water bottle Alarm clock 3. 23.
Candy bar Variety pack of seeds 4. 24.
Flashlight "backpacking" food 5. 25.
Pen & pencil set ATM or credit card w/ pin # 6. 26.
Television set "backpacking type" stove w/ fuel 7. 27.
Tent w/ poles Water purification pump/filter 8. 28.
Sleeping bag Blanket 9. 29.
Matches Notepad 10. 30.
"fire starters" $40 cash 11. 31.
Dictionary Tweedy bird pillow 12. 32.
Change of clothes "cook kit" 13. 33.
VCR remote 


Swiss Army knife 14. 34.
Wrist watch Game Boy w/ extra batteries 15. 35.
Brush & comb set Hat (baseball type) 16. 36.
First-aid kit Map of the city 17. 37.
Water purification tablets Candles 18. 38.
"bath kit" w/soap & shampoo Sunscreen 19. 39.
Extra pair of shoes House/car keys 20. 40.

"New Division" (optional for an introduction)

Purpose: To help students understand that "to discriminate" between or among

objects is a necessary and useful skill.
Students will be split into pairs, and each pair will choose a candy bar, and something to separate the candy bar into two parts (i.e. plastic knives or scissors). One student would choose the candy bar and with what to separate it. The other student would then get to choose first the part or piece that he/she wanted to eat. The following questions would be used to develop discussion and understanding: Why did you choose the particular candy bar? (What characteristics did it have that made you choose it?) What factors caused you to divide the candy bar the way you did? And what caused you to choose the piece/part you did?

After this discussion, the definitions for prejudice and discrimination will be reviewed, and it will be discuss how these words can have a positive or negative meaning depending on the context

"The Haves and Have-knots" (optional for an introduction)

The purpose of this activity is to expose the students to prejudice and discrimination and how it effects group dynamics. This activity is a variation of "the Dot Game." (The Dot game is played in the same way, but with pieces of paper and ink dots instead of bags and rope, twine, yarn.)

To start, off as the students enter the room each one of them is given a small sealed paper bag. Inside each bag is a small piece of rope (twine or yarn could be used). Some of the pieces of rope had been tied into knots beforehand (any knot will do). The students are told to peek inside their bags but to not show their rope to anyone.

After all the students have a bag, they are told to get into groups. The students in the largest group will be rewarded, as will the most successful "knot person." It seems simple; however, the groups must be homogeneous. The "knot free" students must try to form the largest group they can will out allowing a "knot" person into their group. The "knotted" students must try to get into a group without being discovered and removed. At this time students are encouraged to walk around and talk to one another as they form their groups.

Students may not show their rope to any other person. People that let their "knots out of the bag" will be automatically disqualified or "arrested." "Bag feeling," and other tests of good faith are discouraged. Students should rely on body language and other clues to determine if someone is telling the truth or not.

The activity can be timed (no more than 15 minutes) or it can be stopped when all the students are in-groups. Once the activity is declared over, every student should reveal if they are "knotted" or "knot free." Rewards are then given out, and the students are asked to discuss the activity.

At the end of this activity the terms prejudice, discrimination and racism would be defined and discussed. Students would then examine what caused them to be a "have or have-knot." The following questions could be explored: Are there people or groups of people that are excluded? Why is this so? How does it feel to be excluded or included? Do people naturally segregate themselves into groups or is this caused by some outside institution or force? What or who makes the rules in society that lead to exclusion? Why are those rules followed?

Student Diaries (Throughout the unit)

Students will be required to document their lives using some type of notebook or journal. This would start after a few examples of historical diaries have been shown to the class.32 These brief examples will be read and discussed in class. The students will be required to date each entry of their diary and their parents would be required to sign that each entry was completed on that date. I would also bring in a few examples of my journal entries to show to the class. After the students have an understanding of the structure of a diary, they will be required to write in their diary four days a week as homework for this unit. The students must go to a "quiet" area where they can reflect on what is around them. No "outside noise" (i.e. radio, television, computer games, etc.) should interfere with the studentās writing time. The parent signature is used to insure that this rule is followed as much as possible.

Option: Students could use a video recorder to capture a period of time in their lives. I would limit the students to twenty minutes of edited material. The edited tapes would be reviewed and shown after school.

Research Reports (After the introduction of the unit)

Students will investigate and write a brief biography about a person selected from the attached list Appendix 3. In class we will review the proper format for research papers, and the students will be given time in the school library to compile the data that they would need. Periodically, stages of the studentsā research papers, such as notes and outlines, will be collected and reviewed in class to help students remain on task and to guide their progress toward the final due date. Beyond merely reporting facts about the personās life, the students will also need to write a personal response reflecting on the characterās life and contributions in the 1940ās.

Option: Students can pick a subject, such as rationing, and report on that topic. The student would be required to reflect on how this affected life in the 1940ās and speculate on how it might affect them.

Option 2: Students could interview a person who lived during WWII, and then the students would compile a report on that personās life and view of that time period.

Poetry (Throughout the unit)

Selected poems will be used in this unit that help examine the Holocaust and Japanese American Internment. Students will look at several different poems that deal with several different aspects of WWII. The purpose of using poetry is to illuminate and reinforce the visual and prose information. The use of poetry will provide another way to teach and illustrate how words and language can influence thoughts and opinions. The purpose of this section of the unit is to only expose students to a few examples of the numerous pieces of poetry that exist.

Students will examine the following poems: "In Response to Executive Order 9066" by Dwight Okita, "A Camp in the Prussian Forest" by Randell Jarrell, "They first came for the Communists" by Pastor Martin Niemoeller, "To the Lady" by Mitsuye Yamada, and "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eisely.

Solutions to Problems (At the end of the unit)

1. Remember

"As we pass into the 21st century the world particularly Europe will inherit an indigestible piece of history [the Holocaust] which can not be understood, may not be forgiven and must not be forgotten." This quote from Ben Kingsley in Survivors of the Holocaust provides a prescription to prevent the disease of the Holocaust from repeating. The Holocaust must be talked about until it is engraved on the consciences of people. The first way to prevent "Holocaust-like" tragedies from repeating is to inform people of past tragedies and to learn from them.33 Forgiveness and tolerance must be used not as a blanket to cover every difference, but they must used as a medicine to heal the wounds of the past.

  1. Rehumanize
In Survivors of the Holocaust Steven Spielberg said, "The devastating events of the Holocaust didnāt happen to faceless numbers. It happened to people·people just like us·"

The term "Rehumanize" is used because people forget that each victim in these tragedies was a human being just like anyone else. Sure, the victimsā language, race, religion, skin tone, or social status may have been different from ours, but that did not make them less human. Knowing that these people had lives, hopes, and dreams should help us "rehumanize" them, that is to realize that their tragedy is a human tragedy that could have struck anyone at anytime in history.

The biggest tragedy of all was the loss of human dignity. The Germans referred to the Jews as "rats,"34 the Japanese likened the killing of the Chinese at Nanking to killing a bug or pig.35 Human dignity must be maintained at all times when dealing with people. We should not react like SS Officer Adolf Eichmann. When he was asked how the Germans could have killed so many people without remorse, and his answer was, "one hundred dead is a catastrophe·one million dead is a statistic."36

  1. Revise your thinking
Many people respond to words in different ways, yet regardless of how you respond one thing is certain. You did respond. Ordinary people responded in a negative way, and out of their response the Holocaust, Nanking, and Japanese Internment were born. Some people responded positively, and out of this response came "righteous gentiles" who helped the Jews and others during the Holocaust, John Rabe who used his influence as part of the Nazi Party to save thousands of Chinese people living in Nanking, and many Japanese Americans who proved their loyalty to a nation that mistreated them, yet didnāt allow those offenses to be left undisturbed in the pages of history.

Dante wrote, "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." Once words have been said and a tragedy has struck, you may only get one chance to act. "Sitting on the fence" is an action. Adding to the problem is an action. Remembering, rehumanizing people, and revising your thinking are the actions I hope my students will take.


Materials needed

Rope cut into forty six-inch pieces (optional)

Forty brown paper bags (optional)

A television and VCR.

video recorder (optional)

candy bars (optional)

plastic knives (optional)

scissors (optional)

Appendix 1

General vocabulary

    1. primary source ö first-hand experience, knowledge, or eyewitness of an event.
    2. secondary source ö information based on a primary source.
    3. racism ö the belief that one race or group of people is better than another group; it can lead to treating a person or a group of people differently and usually unfairly.
    4. discrimination ö the act of pointing out the differences in objects or persons; the act of treating a person/group differently based on their race, sex, religion etc.
    5. prejudice ö a strong feeling for or against someone or something before all the facts are known; to pre-judge.
    6. propaganda ö ideas, information, or other material given out to influence the opinions of others.
    7. bias ö to prefer one thing, idea, person over another; preference; prejudice.
    8. apathy ö the feeling of not caring; no emotion; indifference.
    9. intolerance ö not accepting someone or something.
    10. tolerance ö acceptance.
    11. restoration - to renew, rebuild or bring back to a former condition; to make things better.
Vocabulary list for the Diary of Anne Frank Section
    1. Amsterdam ö city in Holland where the Frank family lived.
    2. Jew ö a person whose religion is Judaism.
    3. scapegoat ö an innocent person who is blamed and takes the punishment for the problems of others.
    4. Nazi - the political party that ruled Germany during WWII.
    5. concentration camp ö the place where the Jewish people were taken and killed.
    6. ghetto ö poor areas of the city where the Jewish people were forced to live before they were taken to concentration camps.
    7. Hitler ö leader of Germany during WWII.
    8. Axis powers ö Germany, Italy and Japan (started, fought and lost WWII).
    9. Allied powers ö Great Britain, France, USA, and many other countries that fought against the Axis powers and won.
    10. Churchill ö leader (Prime Minister) of Great Britain during WWII.
    11. Stalin ö leader of Russia during WWII.
    12. Roosevelt ö leader (President) of the United States during WWII.
    13. Auschwitz- a concentration camp in Poland.
    14. World War II ö the war between the Axis and Allied powers from 1939-1945.
    15. Gestapo ö Nazi secret police.
    16. rations (ration books) ö the amount of food given out for a certain time period.
    17. Star of David ö Jewish religious symbol.
    18. D-Day ö June 6, 1944 when the Allies landed on the coast of France and began to liberate Nazi controlled territory.
    19. The Final Solution ö Hitlerās plan to kill all of the Jewish people in the world.
    20. Anti-Semitism ö hatred of the Jews.
    21. genocide ö the killing of an entire race of people.
    22. holocaust ö total destruction usually by fire.
    23. Aryan ö the white (Caucasian) blond hair, typically blue-eyed person that the Nazis considered to be the "master race."
    24. gentile ö a person who is not Jewish.
    25. Kristallnacht ö the "night of broken glass" Nov. 9/10, 1938 massive attacks on the Jewish German people occurred and 25,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.
    26. Juden ö German word for "Jews."
    27. Judenrat ö "Jewish Council" Jews appointed by the Germans to govern over the ghettos.
Vocabulary list for the Japanese Internment Section
    1. Issei ö Japanese Americans born in Japan but living in the United States.
    2. Nisei ö Japanese Americans born in the United States whose parents were born in Japan.
    3. Sansei öJapanese Americans born after WWII children of the Nisei.
    4. relocation ö to move a person from one place to another location.
    5. internment camp ö place where the Japanese Americans were held during WWII.
    6. E-day ö the day the evacuation of Japanese Americans began.
    7. sabotage ö treachery; to destroy something by using trickery.
    8. War Relocation Authority -- the government agency that organized Japanese relocation and internment.
    9. no-noās -- internees that were labeled as disloyal for answering no to questions on the "Application for Leave Clearance."
    10. Executive Order 9066 ö this government order required the removal of all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
    11. Manzanar ö the largest internment camp in the California desert.
    12. xenophobia ö fear or hatred of foreigners.
Vocabulary list for the Nanking Section
    1. massacre -- the killing of a large number of innocent people.
    2. Nanking ö the capital city of China before WWII.
    3. comfort women ö captive women that were used for prostitution.
    4. diplomatic ö decision made by government representative rather than military force.
5. war crime ö an illegal act committed during time of war.

Appendix 2

Students will pick one of the following people, or they may choose another historical character (with the teacherās permission). Students would be required to write a 1-2-page biography about this person.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Albert Einstein Winston Churchill
Ted Williams Joseph Stalin Babe Ruth
Douglas MacArthur Elie Wiesel Benito Mussolini 
Chiang Kai-shek Simon Wiesenthal Edward R. Murrow 
Harry Truman Norman Rockwell Dwight D. Eisenhower
Clark Gable Jesse Owens Bette Davis
Babe Didrikson Pearl Buck T.S. Elliot 
Spencer Tracy Ingrid Bergman James Stewart 
A. Philip Randolph W.E.B. Du Bois Paul Robeson 
Benjamin O. Davis Billie Holliday Benny Goodman 
Shirley Temple The Marx Brothers Garrett Augustus Morgan
Joe Louis Henry Ford Joe Kennedy Sr.
Charles Lindbergh Claire L. Chennault

Appendix 3

Student Book Summaries

Baylis-White, Mary. Sheltering Rebecca.

This is the fictional story of Rebecca Muller who was taken from Germany in 1938 to live out the war years in England.

Drucker, Malka and Michael Halperin. Jacobās Rescue.

This is the real life story of the Roslans who hide three children from the Nazis during WWII.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank.

This is the real diary of Anne Frank, a German born Jewish girl, who goes into hiding at the age of thirteen. It chronicles her life in hiding: her thoughts, her hopes, her dreams, and her plans for the future.

Greene, Bette. The Summer of my German Soldier.

Patty is a teenage girl growing up in a small town in Arkansas. She meets Anton a German prisoner of war and eventually helps him escape. Even without the controversial subject matter, this is a very good coming of age story.

Houston Wakatsiki, Jeanne. Farewell to Manzanar.

This is the real life account of the events surrounding the internment of Japanese Americans in the California desert camp in Manzanar. It covers the time before and after the war.

Leitner, Isabella. The Big Lie.

Isabella and her family never thought the Nazis would come to Hungarian town of Kisvardia, but they did. From safety, to the ghettos, to Auschwitz, and eventually to freedom, this easy to read story documents the real account of Isabella Leitner.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars.

This is the fictional story of how a Danish girl and her family help their Jewish neighbors escape to Sweden.

Uchida, Yoshiko. Journey to Topaz.

This is a fictional account of the Sakane family and their eventual internment at the Topaz camp in Utah. It ends midway though WWII and doesnāt have the detail of Farewell to Manzanar, but it is an easier read

Appendix 4

The following is a list of movies that use World War II as the setting, theme or partial events of the movie.

This list could go on for another page or so. Most of the movies on this list concern the war in Europe (except the six movies on the right side). Most of the themes are serious, but a few films have a comedic tone (i.e. Kellyās Heroes, Life is Beautiful). Very few mainstream films cover Japanās war against other Asian countries or the United Statesā mistreatment of its own citizens.

Over the past few years, Hollywood has had a renewed interest in World War II. In spite of this new interest, certain subjects have yet to be covered. One of these subjects is the prejudice and racial discrimination in the United States. For whatever reason, Hollywood and history books have largely ignored or downplayed Japanese Internment and the Double V campaign of African Americans.

Appendix 5

"KWL Chart"

These sections should be made into four separate charts
What I know about WWII What I what to know about WWII What I learned about WWII
What I know about the Holocaust  What I want to know about the Holocaust What I learned about the Holocaust
What I know about Japanese Internment What I want to know about Japanese Internment What I learned about Japanese Internment
What I know about Nanking What I want to know about Nanking What I learned about Nanking


Each word will be defined by the class and then placed on the lower table.
Bias Prejudice Discriminate Racism Tolerance
positive words   neutral words   negative words