Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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Planning Notes

  • The teacher creates a list of events to include in the timeline (see web site for sample).

  • The teacher should prepare an organizer chart for an examination of the Holocaust which includes a timeline from Hitler’s initial plan to the final solution, the location of and events at various death camps, examples of other groups who were sent to the camps and why, examples of personal stories from the camps, and, finally, evidence of how various countries, including Canada, reacted to the initial mistreatment of Jews and later to the Holocaust (see web site for example).

  • The teacher photocopies Appendix 2.4.1 (an examination of WWII human rights issues).

  • The teacher should obtain a copy of the article “In Defense of Pius XII” by Kenneth Woodward in the March 30, 1998 issue of Newsweek (p. 35) and prepare a brief overview of Woodward’s argument. For contrast the teacher may wish to prepare a brief overview of the general arguments made by John Cornwell in his 1999 book Hitler’s Pope.

Prior Knowledge Required

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. The teacher hands out to students a blank timeline (or students create their own), and the list of events to be put in chronological order (see web site for sample). Students read their texts and other sources to discover where to place the events on the timeline.

2. The teacher has students create an organizer for gathering information on the Holocaust and hands out to students the organizer on human rights issues in WWII (2.4.1). The students work in pairs or in groups to gather information from their texts and from other classroom resources to complete the charts. For the first chart students gather information about Hitler’s intentions and his “final solution”. They identify the major camps and locations (the teacher may also wish to have the students place these camps on the maps made in Activity 3) and other groups targeted by the Nazis to go to the death camps (e.g., Polish, Ukrainian, Roma). From their reading, students extract personal stories of people sent to the camps. Lastly, students find information about the response of various countries to the Holocaust. Canada’s reactions should be noted here.

3. In the second chart, students exercise their abilities to research, record, and analyse by looking at human right issues in WWII. They record the basic facts and identify the injustices and human rights violations for the Holocaust, the internment of Japanese Canadians, and the dropping of the atomic bomb. For the latter two issues, students record the respective government reasoning and for all three issues, students record their personal responses. The teacher moves from group to group as students work to assist and encourage where necessary.

4. Each issue is discussed by the class, with emphasis put on the Church’s teachings about respect for human life.

5. As a follow up the teacher should present an overview from the March 30, 1998 issue of Newsweek wherein Kenneth Woodward discusses the blame laid on the Vatican for failing to stop the Holocaust. Here students have the opportunity to understand both a Catholic point of view of the Holocaust as well as the challenge of revisionism in history. The teacher may also wish to provide an overview of John Cornwell’s charges against Pius XII (Hitler’s Pope) or the results of the panel established in 1999 (by the Vatican) to examine the role of the Church with respect to the Holocaust. By examining these resources, students have the opportunity to examine several points of view.

6. If time and location permit, the teacher might arrange a trip to the Holocaust Centre, or students might contact the Centre for additional information.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques


  • Some students may need to watch a video(s) to gather information and/or may need additional assistance in finding and/or recording the information.

  • Some students may require additional time to complete the chart.

  • Some students may prefer to work on their own rather than in groups and should be permitted to do so if their learning style is better met by doing so.

  • The teacher may wish to organize appropriate grouping of students.

  • Individual exceptional students’ IEPs should be examined so that the activity can be altered to suit their individual needs.

  • Where expectations are to be modified (according to IEP), assessment should be fitted to suit.



Kagan, Elynor, ed. War and Peace: Canada’s Global Role (Canada 21). Scarborough: Prentice Hall Ginn, 1996. ISBN 0-13-459439-8

Santor, Donald M. Canadians at War (Canadiana Scrapbook). Scarborough: Prentice Hall, 1979.
ISBN 0-013-113514-7

Woodward, Kenneth L. “In Defense of Pius XII.” Newsweek (March 30, 1998). p. 35


Canada at War. National Film Board of Canada (series of thirteen titles) Title Code: 193B 9162 146 MSN: 32854 (Part 12: V Was for Victory)

World War 2: Canada’s Role. Burnaby, BC: Classroom Video, 1992.

Kit: Canada’s Coming of Age 1939-1945. Veterans Affairs Canada, 1995.

Web Sites

Concentration and Death Camps

The Holocaust Commission Map of Major Nazi Camps

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Community Resources

Holocaust Centre: 4600 Bathurst St. Toronto (416) 635-2883

Royal Canadian Legion: local branch

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