Help Your Students Learn About the Holocaust: 1933-1945

Help your students learn about the Holocaust, learn about it for your history class or to expand your own horizons.
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2,138 students enrolled
Instructed by Anna Scanlon Academics / Humanities
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  • Lectures 13
  • Contents Video: 3 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 4/2013 English

Course Description

When most people think about the Holocaust, they ask why and how such an event could occur in a "civilized" country in modern times--particularly a genocide with such scope and handled with such precision. This course covers the how and why the Holocaust happened, touching on the key events, perpetrators and dates of the period. As this is an overview course, various in depth topics will be saved for future courses. Some of the course will also be student-led, meaning topics students would like to discuss will be brought up during Live Sessions. 

This course is self-paced, making it ideal for those who have work, school or family commitments that may make it difficult to keep up with another course layout. 

The class is tailored for non-historians or people without an extensive working knowledge of WWII or the Holocaust. People who fall under that category may want follow my facebook page ( to keep informed of further classes that go into more detail.

This course is live, so it is always growing and changing!

If you have a course you are interested in taking regarding the Holocaust, please do not hesitate to email me. Future courses may include, but are not limited to:

Anne Frank and the Holocaust

Children/Teens and the Holocaust (a course specifically for children and teens)

Teaching the Holocaust

Film/Theatre and the Holocaust

Non-Jewish Holocaust victims

France and the Holocaust

Two Ground Rules of the Course:

Please be aware that this course does NOT discuss the politics of the nation of Israel. Its founding is briefly touched on at the end of the course, but a debate about Israel's current politics, or any politics post-1940s is not relevant to the course material. If you wish to discuss this, there are many other courses and platforms for you to do so. 

Holocaust denial or revision (i.e. there were no gas chambers) is NOT tolerated in this course. There are plenty of other places to discuss such conspiracy theories. This class operates on the scholarly notion that the Holocaust actually took place.

Failure to comply with the above may result in being removed from the course.

Thank you for your cooperation. 

What are the requirements?

  • Internet connection
  • Ability to stream videos and download documents

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of the course you will have a broader knowledge of the time period, perpetrator motives and a sense of how the world allowed this to occur.

What is the target audience?

  • Those who have completed high school
  • General non-historian audience

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction
A short introduction to this course. As the course moves on, I will add supplementary material for all of you on general Holocaust subjects. 

This lecture focuses on Hitler's rise to power and his first speech. Despite his significance, I do not think Hitler is the most important player in the murder of the Jews, therefore I do not think it necessary to spend a lot of time on him. His rise to power, however, sets the tone and the stage for what would be coming: the biggest genocide the world has ever or since seen.

After watching the main part of the lesson, please click on "Adolf Hitler Speech February 10, 1933 1 of 3," followed by 2 of 3 and then 3 of 3. 

 Knowing what you know about Hitler, what do you think of his speech after watching it? What motivations and tactics does he use to get people to listen to him? Discuss on the Questions board, share your thoughts and see what others have to say about the speech.  

The text to his speech can be found and downloaded on the sidebar. 

Also, if you're interested, check out the links for more information about Hitler. 


This section focuses on prewar life in Germany and surrounding countries for Jews as well as non-Jewish victims. In the download section, you'll find a transcript of this lesson.

Below you'll find some helpful YouTube links, including a couple of production numbers from the film Fiddler on the Roof (based on the Tevye the Dairyman stories, the book is linked below) which projects shtetl life as something very nostalgic. In L'Chaim to Life, notice how Tevye (the main character) is reluctant to dance with the Russian peasant, a sure nod to the tension of the day. You'll also find a brief clip of the film Bent, showing life in Berlin for homosexual men at the very beginning of the Nazi Occupation. The full movie is also linked below on YouTube. 

I've also linked a couple of facts about Judaism, notably the ShalomTV series. This is a 30+ episode series, so watch at your leisure, but don't feel like you have to watch it. Supplementary materials are optional, but for your benefit. There are some other links to Jewish sites that answer basic questions on the religion. 

Included as well is Michael Levy's Echos of the Shtetl with primary source photographs of shtetl life accompanied with klezmer (music played in the shtetl) music. You'll also find links to a few books you may want to purchase if you have the time to explore the topic more.

Section 2: Prelude to Genocide
This lecture was not scripted and therefore does not include a transcript. However, it does contain two small clips from two documentaries. The film's sound does not begin for about 8 seconds, so do not worry that the video or your speakers aren't working.

You'll also find a link to the full film of "The Eternal Jew" with English subtitles and a copy of the Nuremberg Laws in English in the supplementary section. 

This lecture discusses the "pogrom" of November 9, 1938 and how it altered the course of history and heightened the Holocaust. Contained within the lesson are two small snippets from documentaries. Please be sure to turn your speakers on before playing this lesson as there is sound. 

In the additional resources section, you'll find a great History Channel 1 hour long documentary on Kristallnacht for further information. 

As always, do not forget to ask any questions you may have on the "Ask" section of this course. 

I incorrectly refer to this as Lesson 5 in the recording, however it is Lesson 6. 
This section covers the invasion of Poland and the break out of the War. It will focus heavily on the topic of ghettoization in Poland and the film linked below Warsaw Ghetto: The Unfinished Film, sometimes referred to as A Film Unfinished is part of this lesson. You may watch it on YouTube, although many streaming or film providers carry the film if you wish to view it on another device. 

Below, please find the transcript to this lesson and several recommendations of books about life in the ghetto. Like so many other aspects of the Holocaust, this topic is extremely vast making it difficult to cover in a single lesson. If you wish to know more, the books I have linked are a great place to begin. 

This section focuses on Aktion T4 and the cruel murder of the disabled. These murders paved the way for further genocide by perfecting killing techniques. 

Documentaries can be found in the supplementary resources, as well as books on the subject. The BBC4 documentary Scientific Racism does not directly relate to Nazism, but outlines the theories behind Social Darwinism, for those interested. 

Section 3: Elimination
This lesson focuses on Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads and the Reinhard Death Camps, the first after killing methods "perfected" in Aktion T4. This lesson relies heavily on the use of documentary, and it is recommended that you allot an hour or two to watch some or all of the documentaries in the supplementary section. These documentaries show primary sources and unspeakable stories from those who lived through the horrors.
This section explores the January 20, 1942 Wannsee Conference in the outskirts of Berlin. Hitler's elite (without Hitler himself) come together with the German cabinet to make a plan to destroy Europe's Jews once and for all. Below are two fictionalized films, based on the actual timeline of the meeting and run roughly the same length as the meeting itself. 
This lesson examines Auschwitz from its origins to its function. Like the Reinhard Camps and Ghetto lessons, the supplementary material here is essential. I would strongly encourage you to purchase/find in your library at least one suggested memoir and watch at least one documentary. When describing Auschwitz, there are truly no words in any human language. 

I have included Episode 3 of the BBC documentary Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State as this is the only full episode I could find online.

If you do watch or read anything suggested, be sure to "Ask" a question about it so that your fellow students can discuss it with you. 

If the topic of Auschwitz interests you greatly, let me know if you'd like to see a class developed on it. I would love to do so. 

This lesson focuses on the non-extermination concentration camps. I would recommend that you watch at least one documentary and read at least one book I have posted in the supplementary materials section. 

I've added the second part of the film "Anne Frank: The Whole Story," where at 30 minutes in, you can see a fairly accurate depiction of what Anne endured in Westerbork, Auschwitz and Belsen.

I've also added a link to Fateless's trailer, based on Imre Kertesz's book, which illuminates his experiences in several camps after he was interned at Auschwitz. The film itself cannot be found on YouTube (with English subtitles), but could likely be found on Netflix, iTunes, etc. 

Section 4: Liberation
This lesson will be about the Liberation of the Camps and the Displaced Persons camps that were established as a response. Don't forget to check out the documentaries and books I've provided in the links below. 
This final lecture focuses on justice (or lackthereof) and the Holocaust. This lecture also briefly discusses the legacy of the Holocaust. 

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Instructor Biography

Anna Scanlon, Bestselling Author and PhD Candidate University of Leicester

Anna Scanlon has successfully self-published three novels, which have all frequently been listed as bestsellers on Amazon alongside some of the genre's most respected authors. She has learned, from scratch (and a very tiny investment), how to create a consistent passive income stream with her novels, some of which have been purchased by bookstores for sale alongside traditionally published books.

Anna Scanlon holds an MA degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from the University of Amsterdam and is currently a candidate for a PhD at the University of Leicester in Holocaust Studies. Anna has taught several courses including those on the Holocaust, writing and English as a Second Language. She has been awarded the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship for 2011-2012 for excellence in her field and was an European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellow in the summer of 2013. In 2014, she was a Fellow at the Auschwitz Jewish Center.

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