Tag Archives: World War 2

WW2 PPT & Sites

Every day in America today our country loses approximately 1,000 veterans of World War II.  What does this war mean to us today?  How should this story be taught to high school students?  Will there be a World War III?  If they are truly ‘the greatest generation’, how can we honor their struggle in our lives?   Over 60 years ago, over 100 million people fought in this war from the majority of the world’s nations.  It’s estimated that over 70 million civilians died along with 50 million soldiers.  The United States lost over 400,000 dead, but our shores were never invaded, our cities never bombed, our citizens were never made refugees.  Still, we were there.  The United States made the difference between a NAZI controlled world threatened by conquest, racial hatred and a global Holocaust and a world where people could choose freedom over fascism.  Now, we have to learn the story…

First, we begin with a PowerPoint…

For those of you who learn best through PowerPoint (PPT) presentations, this one will help enormously.  I’ve saved the presentation in PDF format too, so those of you who don’t have PPT can still view it.  Because it is 27MB large, it might take a while to load.  The author of this PPT is Ms. Susan Pojer, and she runs one of the best websites for history teachers online.  Appropriately, it is called historyteacher.net.  Her page for PPT’s alone contains over 140.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Click here for the World War 2 PowerPoint in PDF format.

I’ve also added many interesting websites on World War 2.  We’ll do a brief writing assignment on these sites by writing website reviews…

The War

Auschwitz: Inside the NAZI State

BBC History of WW2

D-Day Invasion

Fly Girls: Women Test Pilots in WW2

Children of the Camps: Japanese Internment

Decoding NAZI Secrets

NAZI Prison Escape

They Drew Fire: Artists in WW2

NAZI Propaganda Archive

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

History Channel: Interactive WW2

HBO Series: The Pacific

What did you do in the war, Grandma?

Interactive WW2 Smithsonian Exhibit

Race for the Superbomb

Navajo Code Talkers

World War 2 Veteran Stories

The Nuremberg Trials

President Franklin Roosevelt

Harvard Anyone? WW2 Class

Yes, this is a free online course that I discovered from Harvard University!  If you’ve ever wondered if your high school teachers were lying to you about all of those ‘…when you get to college…’ and ‘…you will need this in college…’, well, check it out.

This website is one of many that I discovered on a VERY cool blog called, Open Culture.  On their site was, among other really cool things, a list of free courses.  Scrolling down the page brought me to a video lecture series on World War 2.  How cool!  We’re going over that right now!

So about the site…

It’s called the Open Learning Initiative from the Harvard Extension School.  The lecturer is Charles S. Maier, PhD, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University.  He offers 24 lectures on World War 2.  If you love the stories and details of this war, then this is the site for you.  What’s very innovative and useful about the lectures is that while the video appears on the left of the screen, there’s a PDF viewer on the right with all of the notes, images, graphs, charts, etc. that the professor refers to, as he refers to it.  You can read his notes and follow along while listening to his lecture.  It’s awesome and FREE!

Let me know what you think.  If anyone wants extra credit for viewing these lessons, who am I to say no?  Hm.  Harvard lectures for extra credit at New Bedford High School… I like the sound of that.

NAZI’s Given ‘Haven’ in US

As students, history is made each day around us – although we often don’t notice or reflect on it.  Now we have a chance…  The New York Times reported today that NAZI’s were given ‘Safe Haven’ in the US.   This shocking assertion follows previous reports and histories conducted by the CIA exposing their potential involvement. The article begins…

A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

This ‘secret history’ is a 600 page report from the Department of Justice titled, ‘Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust’ that the New York Times obtained and published on their website today.  The Times also published an interactive viewer that compares the full version of the report with a previous edited version.  With scrolling side-by-side windows, you can look at what was omitted and why.

To get to the heart of the matter, Chapter 5 of the report, titled, ‘Alleged US Support for NAZI’s Entering the US’, begins with these extremely important questions:

Whether the United States helped persecutors enter the country has implications for our nation in terms of the values it may reflect. Did we knowingly permit major or even minor Nazi persecutors to enter, and if so, what justification was given? At what level within the government was there legal and moral authority to advance such a policy? And have efforts made to conceal such activities from the public in order to advance some perceived higher national good?

These questions have a great deal of weight, especially for high school students learning about the US role in World War 2.  The beginning paragraph continues:

OSI did not originally conceive its mission as including the need to answer these questions. But it was inexorably drawn to the issues when subjects argued that they were in the country at the behest, or with the knowledge, of the United States – allegedly in return for information or services supplied to the government during or after the war. OSI learned that some persecutors were indeed knowingly granted entry. America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well. Some may view the government’s collaboration with persecutors as a Faustian bargain. Others will see it as a reasonable moral compromise borne of necessity.

These last two sentences form an essential question.  Which side do you take?

WW2 Ideas & EQ

In order to learn more about WW2 this week, we will spend a great deal of time in the computer lab, examining the war from as many sides as possible.  In order to frame our work, however, we are going to look at big ideas and essential questions.  First, big ideas are not just notes to be memorized.  They are concepts to be understood at a much deeper level.  Each big idea should be able to be expanded into a full page answer, or a long conversation.  It’s a jumping off point with a lot of information behind it.  They are not just notes to be memorized.

Essential questions are different, but have the same idea behind them.  They are also framed around really big concepts and lots of information, but they are questions, not statements (obviously).  In this sense, they are meant to be a springboard to a lot of other topics and ideas.  Essential questions really make you think.  There is almost always no one correct answer.  Each essential question should be able to have multiple types of answers.  They are great argument-builders!  They also are not meant to be memorized.

So, here’s where we begin!

Big Ideas: (not in any particular order)

1.       War changes a society. Societies make good and bad decisions in a time of war.

2.       Civil liberties and basic human rights are sometimes restricted during times of war.

3.       Political decisions have implications and consequences on future events.

4.       The Allied victory in World War II led to the emergence of the U.S. as a super power. The United States involvement in World War II reshaped America’s role in world affairs.

5.       The failures of post-World War I policies led to World War II.

6.       World War II dealt a catastrophic blow to humanity.

7.       Cultural, economic and political factors led to the rise of dictatorships.

8.       World War II ended the Great Depression and caused enduring changes for women, African Americans, and other minorities.

9.       Roosevelt defined American struggle during WW II as an attempt to establish world order based on “four freedoms”- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

10.   World War II caused a dramatic increase in both the size and the reach of our national government.

11.   Women and African Americans gained more rights as a result of the demand for wartime labor and production.

12.   Fascism was a threat to democratic governments.

13.   Technological advances by both the Axis and Allied powers brought devastation and victory to the battlefield.

14.   Isolationism in the United States and appeasement by European powers created a power vacuum that totalitarian governments in the Soviet Union, Spain, Italy, Japan and Germany filled.

15.   NAZI racism actively supported and promoted genocide.

16.   Hitler was able to persuade a fractured nation to re-arm militarily through intense nationalism and racial superiority.

17.   Both the Axis and Allied powers killed millions of civilians through the use of aerial bombing.

18.   All Americans made sacrifices in World War II in the areas of rations, metals, wages, civil rights, and more.

19.   Japanese Americans were interned during the war and deprived their civil rights.

20.   The use of atomic weapons forced Japan’s unconditional surrender but also ushered in a nuclear age.

Essential Questions: (not in any particular order)

1.       Was the road to World War II inevitable? What were its causes?

2.       What choices and decisions do societies face in war? How did WW II affect American society?

3.       How did the role of the U.S. in world affairs change as a result of World War II?

4.       What factors led to the rise of dictators? Why do dictatorships flourish during times of depression?

5.       How did the role of the national government evolve during World War II?

6.       Do people (citizens and countries) have a responsibility to respond to injustice? (Changed the wording a little and bolded this question—I think it is pretty important here)

7.       How are freedom and democracy threatened during times of war?

8.       What is propaganda? What is rhetoric? How are propaganda and rhetoric used during times of war?

9.       Is it ever justified to use a weapon of mass destruction?

10.   How did the end of the war begin to shape the postwar world?

11.   To what extent is the policy of neutrality a reasonable one?

12.   Does appeasement always (sometimes, or never) make an aggressor more aggressive?

13.   Why is genocide even possible?  How did the Germans make it so?

14.   Would America mobilize for war with the same intensity if not attacked?

15.   How did leadership qualities influence ethical decisions in WW2?

16.   To what extent should or can a nation limit civil liberties in times of war?

17.   How influential was the US to determining the outcome of the war?

18.   What cost is worth the price of victory (for both the US and the Japanese)?

19.   Are nuclear weapons acceptable tools of warfare?

20.   Did World War II make World War III impossible, impractical or inevitable?

Monday Assignment

PowerPoint Questions: The War Begins!

1.        What does the map on the Versailles Treaty tell you about the how national boundaries were redrawn after WW1?

2.       What was the League of Nations and why was it ineffective?

3.       Explain why you believe German soldiers would be dissatisfied after WW1?

4.       Why did France have a false sense of security before and in the beginning of WW2?

5.       What’s your assessment of international agreements between WW1 and WW2?

6.       Explain how each of the following led to WW2.

a.       The Great Depression

b.      Japan attacking Manchuria

c.       Italy attacking Ethiopia

d.      Germany attacking the Rhineland

e.      US Neutrality Acts

f.        America First Committee

g.       The Spanish Civil War

h.      Japan attacking China

i.         The Munich Agreement

j.        The NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

Monday Homework:  Website Reviews!

Using the websites on listed on ‘WW2 PowerPoint & Sites’, please examine and evaluate any two of the twenty websites for the following characteristics:

  • Information: What information does the website provide?  List at least five main points or ideas.
    • Example: The topic of this website is _________.  There is a great deal of information on the site, but the main ideas are: 1) __________, 2) __________, 3) __________, 4) __________ and 5) __________. (By the way, these are not the first five facts you come across.  I know all of the sites really well. :)
  • Interactivity: What features does the website possess to deliver information?  Briefly explain how the website is set up and evaluate its effectiveness.
    • Example: This website examines the topic of __________.  The site is set up in the following way: 1) It has many interactive features that allow the reader to learn more about 1) ________, 2) ________, and 3) ________.  It also has many photos and videos on the following subjects: 1) ________, 2) ________, and 3) ________.  In addition, there are personal stories told by 16 different people.  The stories range from battle accounts to survival stories on the Holocaust.  This site presents the information in an effective way because it allows the reader to see a great deal of information from multiple perspectives.  Two things that could improve the site are 1) ________ and 2) ________.
  • Instruction: How does the website promote learning?  How can it be used in the classroom?  Describe a learning activity that can accompany the site.
    • Example: One example of a learning assignment or classroom project is __________.  In this project, students would do __________ and by doing so, they would learn about 1) ________, 2) ________, and 3) ________.