Industrialists Document Analysis
Lesson Plan: Introducing Students to Primary Sources and Document Analysis
Objective: Students will develop an understanding of primary sources, hone their document analysis skills, and gain exposure to the charges leveled against German industrialists and business leaders at Nuremberg. Students will accomplish this by employing a Document Analysis Form to decode a series of documents that were presented at various trials – specifically Case No. 5, Case No. 6, and Case No. 10.
National Standards for World History - Era 9 Standard 1A-The student understands major political and economic changes that accompanied post-war recovery.
Accelerated students may wish to read a Post-War article that details the expansive nature of the coal and oil industries in Nazi Germany.
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Students should not advance to the next page until they
have analyzed the page they have just read.
Step 5 The instructor can elect to have individual students report out their findings to the
class after everyone has completed a page, or the instructor can chose to create
groups where the students can share their findings on a more limited scale.
Step 6 After the final page has been analyzed; the instructor should restate the Focus
Question and facilitate a group discussion. When students respond, they should
be as precise as possible by identifying key sections from the documents that
support their conclusions. Students should be encouraged to take notes based on
the input of their classmates.
Step 7 The instructor should collect the Document Analysis Form for assessment.
Step 3 The instructor will explain each section of the Document Analysis Form.
Focus Question: Are German industrialists and business leaders from the 1930’s
and 1940’s deserving of the title “War Criminals” or were
they simply conducting business as they claimed?
Box 1: Basic Source Information - FATP
Form: What type of document do we have? Who produced it? (letter, press release, transcript, photograph, poster, book excerpt….)
Audience: Who is the target of the information contained in the document? (general public, private communiqué, voters, academics…)
Topic: What is being said or discussed in the document?
Purpose: Why was this document created? What was the goal of the individual/group producing the document?
Box 2: Content Summary (as it relates to the focus question)
What is in this document that helps us to address the focus question?
Box 3: Conclusions/Comments about the source
Is this a reliable document? Does this source help us to reach a
conclusion about the focus question? If so, what conclusions do you
reach based exclusively on this document?
Step 4 The instructor will ask students to fill in the appropriate boxes on the
Document Analysis Form after reading each page. This lesson can be conducted in a computer lab
or in a traditional classroom.
Step 1 The instructor will define what is meant by the term primary source. Primary sources are original
records created during the time period you are studying, and are not filtered by interpretation –
examples include letters, diaries, photographs, artwork, audio tapes, films, newspapers, magazines,
and books. Primary sources may also be materials created at a later date by a participant or observer
of the time period through memoirs, autobiographies or oral histories.
Step 2 The instructor will hand out a copy of the Document Analysis Form to each student.
One of the most important skills that can be taught to our students is the ability to decode primary source documents. Unfortunately, many modern students prefer to have their information “pre-analyzed” and delivered to them in the form of “important things to remember” for impending tests. It should be self-evident that students are better served if they “earn” their knowledge, and utilizing primary source documents as part of a discovery method lesson is an ideal approach to achieve that goal. By utilizing an array of documents it is anticipated that students will be able to compare & contrast, uncover differing perspectives, and synthesize conclusions. The instructor should introduce students to key terms ( primary source document, perspective, bias…), develop the skills of comprehending the stated as well as the implicit by using a graphic organizer (Document Analysis Form), and foster a comfort level that will facilitate student interest in the future use of these “time capsules” of history.The documents chosen for this lesson consist primarily of evidence presented against the officials of three leading industrial concerns – Flick, I.G. Farben, and Krupp. A link to the Truman Presidential Library is provided here if you would like to familiarize yourself or your students with the chronology of the trials
While it is believed that most students would readily agree that those who actively murdered or tortured civilians prior to and during World War II are deserving of the title “War Criminal”, it is hoped that the less publicized charges against leading industrialists will stimulate productive conversations that challenge students to analyze history and find that real knowledge of history comes not from the “black and white” events but from the “gray” actions and reactions of individuals, societies, and nations.