1. PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
Share with students the challenging vocabulary used in this article, including deportation, ration, sabotage, ghetto, baptismal, infamous, and boycott. Have students jot down anything they already know about those terms. Encourage them to confirm or revise their understanding of the words as they read the text.
2. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
As a class, watch the video about the Holocaust. (Note: This video contains graphic images and may not be suitable for all viewers.)
3. INDEPENDENT READING
Have students read the article on their own, writing down any comments or questions.
4. FULL-CLASS DISCUSSION
Use these questions to guide a discussion.
- What reasons does the article give for why German dictator Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party targeted Europe’s Jews?
(Hitler and the Nazis believed that Jews were racially inferior to Germans, part of what the Nazis called the Aryan race. The Nazis also blamed the Jews for Germany’s loss in World War I and the economic fallout that followed.)
- What do you think motivated Adolfo Kaminsky to get involved in France’s underground resistance movement?
(The article notes that Kaminsky initially began sabotaging the Nazis because he believed they were responsible for the deaths of his mother and his friend. He said, “I had the feeling I was avenging them.” Additionally, Kaminsky was outraged by the Nazis’ belief that Jews were inferior to other people. The article quotes him as saying, “All human beings are equal, no matter what their skin color, their nationality, their religion.”)
- Summarize the central idea of the section “Hitler’s War.”
(Germany invaded Poland in 1939, sparking World War II, and the Nazis began sending Jews to concentration camps.)
- What is Kaminsky’s expression in the photo on p.17? Why might the editors have chosen that image?
(Possible answers: He looks brave and almost cunning. It’s a compelling photo that makes you curious to learn more about Kaminsky and how he saved lives.)
- Study the timeline in the article. What does it add to your understanding of the Holocaust and why resistance fighters risked their lives to save Jews?
(Sample answer: The timeline provides background information on how Hitler rose to power and started World War II. It also details some of the many atrocities the Nazis committed against Europe’s Jews, culminating in the mass murder of 6 million Jewish people. The events in the timeline help readers understand why Kaminsky and other resistance fighters felt compelled to save as many people as they could.)
- How does the author describe Kaminsky’s story?
(He likens it to “something out of a spy novel” and writes that “to understand his heroism requires dipping into a grim chapter of world history.”)
- Why does the author include the detail that Kaminsky “fought to stay awake for two straight days” (p. 17)?
(The author used that detail to illustrate how Kaminsky sacrificed his own health and wellbeing to forge as many documents as possible because the work he did was a matter of life and death for the people he was helping.)
- In the section “All Human Beings Are Equal,” how does the author support the claim that “the work Kaminsky did was extremely dangerous”?
(The author explains that several of Kaminsky’s colleagues in the resistance were arrested and killed after being discovered. The author also states that the strain of doing such work for hours at a time eventually cost Kaminsky his sight in one eye.)