The Roles of Individuals in the Warsaw Ghetto

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to connect philanthropic acts of individuals to crises during the Holocaust, specifically the Warsaw Ghetto. Learners will apply strategies of philanthropy to current issues of human rights abuses. Learners will identify philanthropic themes of community building.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five to Fifty Minute Class Periods (or one block schedule session). Assessment writing piece is to be completed three days after lesson instruction.

The learner will:

  • write a four-paragraph summary of the philanthropic contributions of individuals or groups during the Holocaust based on his/her research.
  • successfully use a timeline from the Internet source, Chronology of the Holocaust (Middle Tennessee University).
  • give examples of philanthropic actions within communities during times of crisis.
  • brainstorm ideas and list ways that the individuals in the Warsaw community could provide their time, talent, and/or treasures to improve the common good within the ghetto.
  • compare the philanthropic deeds gained through brainstorming session to actual examples in the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • relate how the actions of the individuals in the Warsaw Ghetto reflected protection of core democratic values.
  • explain how the individuals in the Warsaw Ghetto used their reserved power to act.
  • identify a current issue in human rights and propose philanthropic solutions to alleviate the problem.
  • The book The Holocaust: A History of Courage and Resistance. (See Bibliographical References.)
  • Handout copies of the "Chronology of the Holocaust." (See Bibliographical References.) videotape or DVD (optional)
  • "Schindler’s List"

Sources for issues in current human rights issues:

  • (University of California–Berkeley Library)
  • (Columbia University in the City of New York)
  • (Detroit News) The March 9, 2002 issue deals with the loss of some basic freedom issues put into law since 9/11/02 and issues in February, 2002 deal with issues of segregation and community in Detroit and suburbs. Reference to national study also cites other cities.
Home Connection 

Learners and parents will brainstorm how the student can perform philanthropic deeds within the family community. The learners will return to class with a list of three things the learner may do. Instruct the learner that there should be one thing demonstrating time, one talent and one treasure.


Chronology of the Holocaust. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Columbia University in the City of New York

Detroit News

Life in the Warsaw Ghetto. (Jewish Virtual Library). 

Stadler, Bea. The Holocaust: A History of Courage and Resistance. New Jersey: Behram House, Inc., 1973.

The Ghettoization of European Jews: Deportation and Resettlement in the East. (Jewish Virtual Library). [no longer available]

University of California–Berkeley Library 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have learners work in groups of three to answer complete the following definitions and record their answers in their notebooks: 1) Define a community. 2) Define the roles of individuals in a community and identify those characteristics of people who help the community. 3) Define the roles of individuals in a community during a crisis such as a flood, hurricane, and deprivation of rights of a minority in the community. Note: An excellent issue to explore is the Americans With Disabilities Act and communities’ resistance to putting in accessible ramps andelevators. Ask learnerswhether someone in their school who suddenly becomes disabled through accident or illness should be forced to attend another school because their school is not accessible.

  2. After some discussion, define philanthropy on the board for the learners: "Individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world."

  3. Ask the learners to relate that definition to their community in crisis. Example: do they have neighbors working together and sharing food, clothing etc? Do they have examples of the community coming together to help out, such as schools opening their doors and providing shelter? You could have information available for them that shows the flooding along the Mississippi River, hurricanes in Florida, etc. to show how people came together to help out during these times of crises. Approach the issue of providing that same shelter to homeless people. Do they believe their community would be more sensitive to providing shelter to homeless people or displaced people by storms? Would their community take in refugees who have experienced racial or ethnic discrimination from other parts of the world?

  4. At this time you should tell the learners that they are going to look at a community in crises during WWII, the Warsaw Ghetto. Define "ghetto."

  5. So that the learners have a relationship of time and place and a sequential history of the Holocaust, hand out the "Chronology of the Holocaust"​ and go over some of the major events leading up to the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

  6. Explain the ghettoization process (including various other established ghettos in history), and describe the ghetto. Use this site in preparing this information: and To help reinforce this description, use clips from "Schindler’s List" which shows the removal of the Jews from their homes in Poland and placing them into the ghettos.

  7. Ask learners how the Warsaw Ghetto falls into the definition of a community.

  8. Have learners work for ten minutes in groups of three to brainstorm ideas, listing ways that the individuals in the Warsaw community could provide their time, talent, and/or treasures to improve the common good within the ghetto.

  9. After learners have completed the above procedure, call them back and ask the learners what philanthropic examples they came up with and list them on the board.

  10. To illustrate examples of philanthropic deeds under the worst of all possible human conditions, read chapter 7, The Holocaust: A History of Courage and Resistance (chapter 7, page 61) prior to class and prepare information necessary for the class. Write the following quote on the board first. "The idea that all Jews are responsible for each other has stopped being merely a slogan." (This quote is found in The Holocaust: A History of Courage and Resistance. Chapter 7, page 61.) Explain to the learners how the Warsaw Ghetto community came together and lived the motto.

  11. As a closing activity, have learners go back into original groups and have them compare the philanthropic deeds they came up with during their previous brainstorming session to the actual deeds you shared with them from Chapter 7 of the text.

  12. Instruct learners that they are to research an individual or a group that performed philanthropic deeds during the Holocaust or other similar events in history. They are to write four paragraphs of summary on that topic. Provide the list of web sites. If your school has Internet access, schedule time for your learners in the class or school laboratory. Provide research materials to assist learners. Give the learners at least three days after the instructional sequence to complete. Clarify your expectations for grammar, structure, usage, topic sentence and supportive and historical details. Essay must also have expressed knowledge of philanthropy themes and documentation through example.


Writing assignment Answers to brainstorming sessions

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Describe the concept of the individual's "reserved power" to act and how this idea relates to the growth of the civil-society sector.