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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Teachers Notes


These sources and suggested activities have been designed to meet various units in QCA Key Stage 3 History.

Unit 19 - 'How and why did the Holocaust happen?'

Section 3 - 'Rights denied; how did Nazi persecution of the Jews develop?'

Section 4 - 'How and why were ghettos set up and what was life like inside them?'

Section 5 - 'What was the Final Solution?'

The Jeanette Kaufmann source charts the development of Nazi anti-Semitism from the implementation of the Nuremberg Laws, through to the removal of the Jews to the Ghettos, the use of Jewish Labour and essential workers, the formation of work camps, death camps and the Final Solution. The entirety of the Nazi Holocaust can be explored through one woman's experience. By comparing Jeanette Kaufmann's experience with a traditional 'Text Book' timeline of the Holocaust, pupils will be able to personalise history.

Section 6 - 'What happened when people found out about the Holocaust?'

'The Story of Belsen' records the actions and attitudes of the British Army to the liberation of Belsen. There is a real sense of shock and anger in the source. Match this with the photograph of the 'Beast of Belsen' and there is an empathy exercise waiting to happen. 'The Story of Belsen' and the Kaufmann source both present the pupils with the question 'What happened next?' and will be an ideal springboard into a discussion about the formation of Israel, repatriation of survivors and the War Crimes tribunal.

Obviously they could be used in other ways - to support a study of Anne Frank for example (since Belsen was the camp where Anne died), as a comprehension exercise or a source analysis study.

Other Curriculum Links

Literacy and creative writing

Scanning, reading, comprehension and paraphrasing exercises could all be performed around these sources. A newspaper front cover exercise reporting upon the arrest of the 'Beast of Belsen' will allow pupils to experiment with emotional and empathetic language. A comparison of Jeanette Kaufmann's source with the Military's booklet on the liberation of Belsen will also lead to a discussion surrounding the use of language to communicate emotionally.

Information Technology

The activities suggested will meet the criteria of Key Stage 3 ICT QCA Unit 3 - 'Processing text and images' and Unit 8 - 'Public Information Systems'. The Links section of the site will also offer a range of extension activities for the pupils who are interested in the subject matter.

Key Skills

Communication - these sources allow for a comparison of different styles of communication, factual, emotional and journalistic. The photographs of Belsen Camp and Josef Kramer could lead to discussion based activities.

ICT - use of the internet, word processing skills or desk top publishing packages could all be used alongside this information.


The Holocaust overview activity - The Washing Line - could be used in Citizenship lessons to highlight the prolonged nature of Jewish persecution throughout history or to introduce the topic of genocide.

'The Story of Belsen' source and activities could be used to increase tolerance.

The comparison activity could launch a discussion of where responsibility for this type of crime lies and how it should be punished. It could also open a debate as to whether war criminals should still be tried and punished. This debate could be used to illustrate the fact that there are no easy answers to some problems and that very often an awareness of the arguments is enough.

Age of Pupils

This topic is targeted at Year 9 pupils because of the Key Stage 3 syllabus and the sensitive nature of the material.


Reading of primary sources can be difficult. Transcripts are available. Sources have been presented in small, bite-sized sections. Sources may be printed and made larger for classroom use. Important parts could be highlighted to allow pupils to scan for relevant information more easily.

Worksheets can be adapted for different abilities. Sentence starters could be added into the time line or newspaper article. Word boxes could provide children with a relevant vocabulary.

Worksheets could be printed off and supplied in a paper copy or downloaded into a word file for use.