Lesson Plan: Stages of Persecution

How did the Nazis attempt to eliminate the Jews from German territory?

What were the different stages of persecution?

Aim: This lesson aims to give the students an understanding of the Nazis' actions and help them to see that the persecution developd in stages.

Prior learning: It is important that the students already have some understanding of the Holocaust, particularly the reasons behind Nazi anti-Semitism. This could come by way of a 'big picture' lesson. Otherwise this lesson could be taught early in a unit of work on the Holocaust.

Materials required: Video clip, timeline and notes sheet (download below)

Objectives: Understand that the Nazis persecuted Jews in different ways

                   Be able to identify the different stages of persecution

                   Be able to explain why different stages of persecution exist.



Show a clip from one of the survivor stories that describe early loss of rights, propaganda or violence towards Jews. Use the topic map to choose your clip. There is an excellent description of Kristallnacht at the start of Chapter 3 of Heinz's testimony.

Ask the students to identify the way in which the Nazis are trying to remove the Jews from Germany or Europe.

Hold a Q&A session. In what way are the Nazis attacking the Jews in this story? How else did the Nazis try to remove the Jews from their territory? The answer to the second question could be recorded as a spider diagram on the whiteboard or in students' books.


Identify 4 stages of persecution: propaganda and loss of rights, increased violence, segregation, death camps.

Using the Notes Worksheet and the Persecution Timeline (download below), ask the students to work through the timeline and try to identify persecution. Each time they identify persecution they should decide what kind of persecution it is and write a note in the appropriate box on their worksheet. They should also make a note of the date. 

Stop the students after a few minutes and ask for examples so as to model correct categorisation for the students, before giving them more time to complete the task.

When the students have finished they should try to identify the timescale for each stage of persecution. This could be done in pairs, taking feedback from the whole class to ensure this learning is secure.


This is an opportunity to use another eyewitness clip to help understanding. Show Chapter 2 of Margaret's testimony to explain how more Jews came under Nazi control as they moved further into eastern Europe.

The students' timescales and the video clip can now generate a discussion on why there were different stages. Try to direct the discussion towards valid historical arguments, such that the Nazis had no early coherent plan; Nazi policies were not 'working'; Jewish resilience; more Jews coming under Nazi control.

Students can also discuss at what point Nazi policy changes from forcing Jews out of their territories to murdering the Jews of Europe, and at what point they think the decision to murder the European Jews was taken.

Students can complete the lesson with the final plenary worksheet on which they can identify the stages of persecution by date by colour coding or annotation, and write an explanation of why there are different stages of persecution (or more simplistically, why persecution moves from expulsion to murder).

Where to go next

This is a simple lesson aimed at introducing the idea of stages of persecution. This is best placed early on in a unit of work about the Holocaust. It can be modified to be less academically demanding, or alternatively, extension exercises can be built in around the plenary to push a more able group.